, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 109-121

Cancer in Indigenous Australians: a review

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Abstract

Objectives: To summarize for the first time evidence of the impact of cancer on Indigenous Australians. Methods: Medline search of peer-reviewed scientific journals, and extensive search of reports of government agencies, publications of cancer registries and non-government organizations, and other non-peer-reviewed sources. Results: Indigenous Australians have much higher incidence rates than other Australians of cancers of the lung, liver, and cervix; but much lower rates of cancers of the breast, colon and rectum, prostate, melanoma of skin, and lymphoma. Some of these differences can be explained, in part at least, by differences in risk factor prevalence. Indigenous Australians also have higher mortality and lower survival from cancer as a whole than other Australians. More advanced disease at diagnosis, and possibly poorer treatment, are partly responsible for these differences, but other factors may also be involved. Conclusions: Less accessible and less effective health programs are as great a problem for cancer control as for other aspects of Indigenous health in Australia. Major improvements in preventive services, screening, primary care, and specialist treatment services are required to reduce cancer incidence and improve cancer outcomes for Australia's Indigenous people.