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Diagnosis and Treatment for Vulvar Cancer for Indigenous Women From East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory: Bioethical Reflections


This paper explores the bioethical issues associated with the diagnosis and treatment of vulvar cancer for Indigenous women in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. Based on a qualitative study of a vulvar cancer cluster of Indigenous women, the article highlights four main topics of bioethical concern drawn from the findings: informed consent, removal of body parts, pain management, and issues at the interface of Indigenous and Western health care. The article seeks to make a contribution towards Indigenous health and bioethics and bring to light areas of further research.

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The authors would like to thank Associate Professor John Condon and the genetics team; Dr. Rebbekah McWhirter for administrative assistance; Mr. Hamish Holewa for assistance with Quadrant; and Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama for reviewing the article for the Indigenous Reference Group. The project is a research collaboration between Menzies School of Health Research and Griffith University and is funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant (No. 1003817).

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Correspondence to Pam McGrath.

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McGrath, P., Rawson, N. & Adidi, L. Diagnosis and Treatment for Vulvar Cancer for Indigenous Women From East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory: Bioethical Reflections. Bioethical Inquiry 12, 343–352 (2015).

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  • Bioethics
  • Indigenous health
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Indigenous and Western health care