Can­cer killing our kids

Young Ter­ri­to­ri­ans dy­ing from dis­ease at higher rate

NT News - - NEWS - LAU­REN ROBERTS Health Re­porter

TER­RI­TORY young peo­ple have the low­est rate of can­cer in the na­tion – but teens and young adults in the NT are more likely to die from the dis­ease than those liv­ing in most other states and ter­ri­to­ries, new re­search shows.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare’s Can­cer in ado­les­cents and young adults in Aus­tralia re­port re­leased to­day, 195.1 in 1 mil­lion Ter­ri­to­ri­ans aged 15-24 were di­ag­nosed with can­cer from 2009-13.

This is well be­low the na­tional can­cer rate of 310.4 in 1 mil­lion young peo­ple.

By com­par­i­son, 50.7 in 1 mil­lion Ter­ri­to­ri­ans aged 15-24 died from can­cer – much higher than the na­tional mor­tal­ity rate of 32 in 1 mil­lion. Over­all, the NT has the sec­ond-high­est can­cer mor­tal­ity rate in Aus­tralia.

Can­cer Coun­cil NT chief ex­ec­u­tive Kath­leen Cole said the NT’s higher mor­tal­ity rates were con­tin­u­ing.

“Com­mon health dis­par­tites caused by our re­mote­ness and lower so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus of Ter­ri­to­ri­ans im­pact on our young as well as adults,” she said. “This high­lights our need for more ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness to min­imise con­trol­lable risks of can­cer – such as smok­ing, nu­tri­tion, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and sun pro­tec­tion – as some other fac­tors are not con­trol­lable.”

AIHW re­searchers found peo­ple who lived in re­mote ar­eas of Aus­tralia were of­ten dis­ad­van­taged in ac­cess to pri­mary health­care ser­vices, ed­u­ca­tional and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, and in­come.

“They are also more likely to have higher rates of risky health be­hav­iours, such as smok­ing, heavy al­co­hol use, and poor nu­tri­tion,” the study found.

From 2010-14, more than 4800 new cases of can­cer were di­ag­nosed in young Aus­tralians – an av­er­age of two to three di­ag­noses ev­ery day.

The re­port shows more young Aus­tralians are be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer than ever, but mor­tal­ity rates are drop­ping. AIHW spokesman Justin Har­vey said 89 per cent of young peo­ple sur­vived five years past their can­cer di­ag­no­sis in 2010-14, up from 80 per cent in 1985-89.

“The good news is that can­cer sur­vival has im­proved for young peo­ple,” he said.

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