LETTER: Important issues to focus on this week

SUNDAY marked the start of NAIDOC Week (July 3-10), a time to recognise and celebrate the contributions of Indigenous Australians.

It's also an opportunity to raise awareness about health inequalities and work together to close the gap in survival disparities for cancer and other chronic diseases.

While Indigenous cancer survival rates have improved significantly since the late 90's, disparity rates remain unchanged between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Research recently conducted by Cancer Council, Menzies School of Health Research and Queensland Health, found five-year cancer survival rates for Indigenous Queenslanders improved from 53 per cent in 1997-2006, to 59 per cent in 2007-2012.

However, survival outcomes experienced by Indigenous people remained lower than for non-Indigenous people.

More work needs to be done to reduce the burden of cancer on Indigenous communities and help close the gap on survival.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death among Indigenous Australians.

Tragically, about 20 per cent of the cancer deaths among Indigenous cancer patients can still be attributed to the survival disparity.

Indigenous Australians are also more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer, have poorer prospects for effective treatment and survival, and are less likely to complete treatment.

We're dedicated to raising awareness and investing in better healthcare, education and support for all Queenslanders, all cancers.

For support or cancer-related information, please contact Cancer Council Queensland on 13 11 20.

JEFF DUNN, Cancer Council Queensland



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