North's cancer rates higher

By Mike Dinsdale

Northland has some of the highest cancer rates - especially for lung cancer - in the country.
The latest figures from the Ministry of Health, from 2006-2008, show that Northland, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and Canterbury District Health Boards had significantly more cancer registrations than the national average.
At the same time, Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Whanganui and Otago DHBs had significantly higher death rates.
Three reports from the ministry and the National Health Board - New Registrations and Deaths 2008, Cancer: Major Sites by DHB region of residence 2006-2008 and Cancer: Historical Summary 1948-2008, detail the country's rates of the disease.
The national rate of cancer registrations is 339.3 per 100,000, but in Northland it's 359.5, the third highest in the country behind Bay of Plenty and Lakes DHBs.
When it comes to deaths from cancer, the national rate is 132.8, but in Northland it's 144.3, third only to Tairawhiti and Lakes.
For lung cancer registrations the national average is 29.7 per 100,000, but in Northland it's 38.9, second only to Tairawhiti.
Lung cancer deaths in Northland stood at 32 per 100,000, higher than the national average of 25 and, again, second only to Tairawhiti.
Prostate cancer registrations in Northland stood at 112.4, third behind Whanganui and Nelson/Marlborough, with the national average 100.5.
National clinical director of the cancer programme John Childs said the publications did not try to explain the differing rates.
"It's important to look at the population structure in different areas when reading this report. For instance, we know that Maori populations have higher rates of cancer and that people who are most deprived generally have poorer health outcomes," Dr Childs said.

More than 20 per cent of Northlanders are Maori, one of the highest rates in the country.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for 29 per cent of all deaths.
The publications are available at

- Northern Advocate

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