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The State of Cancer in New Zealand 2020 | He Pūrongo Mate Pukupuku o Aotearoa

This is the inaugural report from Te Aho o Te Kahu providing a snapshot of cancer and cancer care in New Zealand.

The report outlines trends in cancer incidence, survival, and mortality and presents information on how New Zealand is performing with regards to key aspects of cancer care, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care. It identifies where emerging and persistent issues and inequities exist along the cancer pathway.

The report provides a snapshot of a point in time and does not make recommendations. It is expected to inform, and be used by, interested members of the public, health professionals, community groups, non-governmental organisations, and others working in the cancer sector. It provides a baseline to measure the effectiveness of cancer control programmes, identify work priorities, develop future programmes, develop funding proposals and coordinate effective collaborations.


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Cancer Society Chief Executive, Lucy Elwood

The Cancer Society doesn’t believe the State of Cancer report tells us anything new or provides us with a pathway forward for addressing shortfalls in cancer care and prevention.

“He Pūrongo Mate Pukupuku o Aotearoa2020, The State of Cancer in New Zealand 2020, provides a detailed snapshot on the current state of our country’s cancer care system. While the contents are not a surprise, having this information as a single report is incredibly useful — both for government and for charities like the Cancer Society. The information will be useful for us to progress and develop our services,” says Lucy Elwood Cancer Society of New Zealand CE.

The report will show us where the current issues and inequities exist along the cancer pathway and will support the work of the Cancer Society in advocating for better cancer care and prevention and, in particular, addressing equity challenges.

The report reinforces the need for changes in areas we’ve already highlighted to government, such as:

  • Ensuring more investment in cancer prevention and screening
  • Addressing the postcode lottery. Your cancer treatment shouldn’t vary depending on where you live
  • Addressing inequities in cancer rates between Māori and non-Māori
  • Progressing the recommendations of the health and disability system review
  • Ensuring better systems with PHARMAC and the National Travel Assistance scheme

“It’s time for the next steps,” says Lucy Elwood Cancer Society of NZ CE. “We’re calling for increased investment, a faster roll out of bowel screening programme, fast tracking of lung cancer screening, focused funding for initiatives to eliminate disparities, bold action on prevention, and better access to cancer drugs.”

The report highlights the part the charity sector plays in supporting people on their cancer pathway. This is particularly so for people surviving cancer and living longer in their communities. We note that there are some 218 cancer-related charities in New Zealand, of which the Cancer Society is the largest. As the report suggests, this is a high number of groups to be trying to share the charity dollar.

A key component of the report is addressing equity issues and the Cancer Society also believe this is an important issue. Last year the Cancer Society introduced an equity charter for their work to help address the burden of cancer for Māori who are twice more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than non-Māori. We also have dedicated programmes for Māori such as our Kia ora e te iwi programme.


Read the full Te Aho Te Kahu report here.

Dianna Sarfati talks about the report on Radio NZ.

Dr Chris Jackson speaks about the report to Radio NZ.

Cancer Society Chief Executive Lucy Elwood speaks to the NZ Herald about the report.