THIS week is NAIDOC Week, a time to recognise and celebrate the contributions of Indigenous Australians.
The theme, Because of Her, We Can, honours the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and the influence they have in their communities and Australia.
This is also an important opportunity to raise awareness of women’s health inequalities to close the gap in survival disparities for cancer and other chronic diseases.
While Indigenous cancer survival rates have improved, disparity rates remain unchanged between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
We know Indigenous people are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancers and overall have lower participation rates in cancer screening.
We urge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to take part in eligible screening, and encourage other women in their life to take part, to help save lives.
This includes the National Cervical Screening Program, the National Breast Cancer Screening Program, and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
Screening rates are lower among Indigenous Queenslanders for all three programs – improvement in uptake is vital to help detect cancer early.
Cancer screening aids with early detection significantly improves the likelihood of treating cancer successfully if a diagnosis does occur.
Tragically, 20 per cent of the cancer deaths among Indigenous cancer patients can still be attributed to the survival disparity – taking part in eligible screening programs could help close some of that gap.