November 12, 2019
Maori short changed on lung cancer treatment
Patient advocate group the Lung Foundation NZ says many district health boards are failing to follow national standards for testing for cancer, meaning hundreds of people are missing out on free treatment.
Chief Executive Philip Hope from Ngāti Porou says National’s scrapping of the Cancer Control Agency in 2015 means every DHB now takes its own approach to implementing standards.
He says lung cancer is the country’s biggest cancer killer, with five people a day dying of the disease and 80 percent dying in the first year of being diagnosed.
Modern treatment regimes call for molecular testing to identify strains of cancer which can be targeted by specific drugs.
Māori are high expressers of a particular ALK biomarker for a cancer which responds well to a drug that is now free.
"The thing we’re really concerned about is there are probably 50 to 60 patients out there with this type of lung cancer but they don't even know it, they haven't even been given the opportunity to be tested. They will die prematurely simply because they haven't got access to an efficacious treatment," Mr Hope says.
He says Māori aren’t being educated about symptoms of lung cancer or getting proper treatment.
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