Bowel cancer the most common type of cancer in Hawke’s Bay

Each year, around 23,000 people (about one person in 210) are diagnosed with cancer and 10,000 die from cancer, says the Ministry of Health, and Mâori have significantly worse cancer outcomes than the population as a whole.

According to the ministry’s data, the most recent of which was in 2015, in Hawke’s Bay 466 men and 433 women were registered with cancer.

Among those, the most common was colorectal (bowel) cancer with 150 cases (75 each for women and men), followed by prostate cancer (118), breast cancer (116), lung (93 cases – 50 men, 43 women) and melanoma (77 cases – 50 men, 27 women).

Nationally, prostrate cancer was the most prevalent followed by colorectal and breast, with the most deaths attributed to lung cancer followed by colorectal and prostate.

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The most recent figures for cancer deaths, which were released in 2016, were measured per 100,000 population. In Hawke’s Bay the figure was just above the national aggregated rate of 124.6 deaths per 100,000 population.

Internationally, New Zealand ranked in the middle of comparable countries, said Ministry of Health clinical adviser cancer services Dr Scott MacFarlane.

Among those countries Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia achieved the best outcomes, and Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Britain the poorest.

Cancer accounted for a third of all deaths in New Zealand and around 18 per cent of total health loss (from dying early and from living with the effects of cancer, its treatment and after effects), he said.

In terms of ethnicity, Mâori had 1.28 times the cancer incidence and 1.7 times the death rate of non-Mâori, and achieving equity in cancer outcomes was a key focus of the Ministry’s work to ensure all people with cancer in New Zealand received a high standard of care regardless of where they lived, their ethnicity or their ability to pay.

“Fundamental to this is putting more work into prevention so fewer people get cancer, and improving access to diagnostic services, so more people who are diagnosed with cancer are diagnosed early when it may be easier to treat,” Dr McFarlane said.

A third of the total cancer impact in New Zealand was potentially preventable by changes to known lifestyle, environmental and occupational risk factors. A recent New Zealand study had calculated this at over 40 per cent for colorectal cancer.

Risk factors also included smoking, sun exposure, drinking and low physical activity.

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