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Call for focus on Maori cancer rates

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/02/2017

Government policy has to address the increasing cancer crisis among Maori, a Massey University public health researcher says.

Dr Lis Ellison-Loschmann says cancer incidence and mortality rates are already significantly higher in Maori, compared with non-Maori.

She says inequalities in cancer survival rates have been documented for several cancers, including lung, liver, stomach, breast and cervical cancers.

Even for cancers less common in Maori, such as colorectal and prostate cancers, Maori are still more likely to die than other populations.

"Given the lag time between exposure to risk factors and the development of cancer, unfortunately we can expect to see even higher rates of some of these cancers in the coming years, which will further increase the cancer burden for whanau," she said.

"So it is imperative that we have a cancer control strategy which addresses Maori cancer priorities."

Speaking ahead of World Cancer Day on Saturday, Dr Ellison-Loschmann said the inclusion of health in all policies was critical for Maori cancer control.

She said addressing persistent ethnic inequalities in education, income, the labour market, housing and wealth was challenging.

However, it was necessary if equity in cancer incidence and outcomes was to be achieved among future generations.

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