Cutting the death rate of Aboriginal cancer patients

Cancer Council NSW announces $2 million grant

Australian researchers are pulling their strengths together to save the lives of Aboriginal Australians with cancer. The death rate from cancer is currently 60% higher in Aboriginal people than in non-Aboriginal people.

New research to improve cancer survival rates in Aboriginal Australians has been given a boost, with Cancer Council NSW awarding a $2m grant over the next five years to a team of leading researchers with the aim of cutting the number of Aboriginal cancer deaths.

“The grant is aimed at making our health system work better to meet Aboriginal patients’ needs. To do this successfully, we need to know more about what is happening now and how services could be improved.

“Access to treatment centres and feelings of isolation while in hospital are some of the barriers that we believe may prevent Aboriginal people from accessing the same level of healthcare as non-Aboriginal people.

“These issues are putting lives at risk, with NSW’s Aboriginal population being up to three times more likely to die from some types of cancer than non-Aboriginal people. This research will identify how we can start to close this gap,” said Professor Dianne O’Connell, Cancer Council NSW.

Professor O’Connell is working with Chief Investigator Associate Professor Gail Garvey, from Menzies School of Health Research to bring together leading researchers, health service providers, policy-makers, consumer advocacy groups and Aboriginal groups in the fight against cancer.

Important areas that will be addressed include:
• The performance of the national cervical cancer screening program for Aboriginal women
• The patterns of cancer care for selected cancers in Aboriginal people across the country
• The supportive care needs of Aboriginal patients and their families
• The distinctive cancer care requirements of Aboriginal cancer patients
• Innovative models of care for Aboriginal cancer patients

The project is a collaboration with Cancer Council NSW, University of Western Australia, Griffith University and James Cook University.

If you would like to help us understand why the Aboriginal cancer death rate is so high, you can, by participating in a short 20 minute phone call. Cancer Council NSW needs to speak to Aboriginal people who have been diagnosed with cancer since July 2010. For more information call 1800 247 029 to speak with an Aboriginal liaison officer.