21 Feb 2016

Plea for cancer treatment access in poorer areas

6:22 pm on 21 February 2016

Health boards in poorer, rural areas must improve access to cancer treatments, Maori health doctor says.

New Ministry of Health statistics, which break down death rates for lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancer, show people die of cancer in Northland and Tairawhiti (East Coast) at a faster rate than in any other region.

A $5 million cancer treatment centre opened in Northland in 2014, and an associate professor at the Research Centre for Maori Health at Massey University, Marewa Glover, said more such projects were badly needed.

"It's not just that they may have poorer lifestyle in terms of smoking, poor nutrition and insufficient physical activity that's contributing to these higher rates, that's worsened by the fact that they might not be getting equitable access to treatments."

She said the figures also showed the strong role smoking still had in the development of cancer.