An assessment of recent data on cancer in Indigenous Australians (Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders) shows that, although they are less likely to have some types of cancer than other Australians, Indigenous people are significantly more likely to have cancers that have a poor prognosis, but are largely preventable, such as lung and liver cancer. Indigenous people with cancer are diagnosed at a later stage, are less likely to receive adequate treatment, and are more likely to die from their cancers than other Australians. Inadequate identification of Indigenous people in cancer registers precludes reporting for some parts of Australia, but sufficient information is available to identify priorities and inform appropriate remedial action. Health-risk factors, especially smoking, and inadequate health-system performance largely explain the patterns of cancer incidence and mortality in areas with adequate data. Effective tobacco control programmes, improvements across a range of health services, and meaningful Indigenous engagement are all needed to decrease the burden of cancer in Indigenous Australians.
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