Cancer incidence and survival for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory

John Condon, B Armstrong, T Barnes, Y ZHAO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To compare cancer incidence and survival for the Northern Territory (NT) Indigenous population with that of other Australians, and to assess NT Indigenous incidence time trends. Methods: Cancer registry data were used to calculate cancer incidence rate ratios (NT Indigenous to total Australian), the average annual change in NT Indigenous cancer incidence and the relative risk of cancer death after diagnosis of cancer (NT Indigenous to combined Western Australian and Tasmanian cases) for 1991-2001. Results: For NT Indigenous people, incidence rates were high for cancers of the liver, gallbladder, cervix, vulva and thyroid and, in younger people only, for cancers of the oropharynx, oesophagus, pancreas and lung, but low for cancers of the colon and rectum, breast, ovary, prostate, bladder, kidney, melanoma and lymphoma. Incidence rate ratios ranged from 0.1 for melanoma to 7.4 for liver cancer. Incidence increased for breast and pancreatic cancers. Survival was low for almost all specific cancers examined, and for all cancers combined (relative risk of death 1.9, 95% CI 1.7-2.1). Conclusions: Compared with other Australians, NT Indigenous people have higher, and increasing, incidence for some cancers (particularly smoking-related cancers) and lower survival for most. Implications: Cancer has a greater impact on NT Indigenous people than other Australians. Well-established cancer risk factors should be more effectively tackled in Indigenous people and known effective screening programs more effectively implemented. Research is urgently required into the reasons why survival from cancer in NT Indigenous people is so much lower than in other Australians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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