Government Agencies Partner to Help Achieve Equity in Cancer Outcomes

The Health Research Council (HRC), Te Aho o Te Kahu, the Cancer Control Agency and the Department of Health today announced $6.2 million in funding for research aimed at address serious inequities in cancer care and survivorship for Maori and Pacific people in New Zealand.

HRC Chief Executive Professor Sunny Collings says a key focus of this new fair funding of cancer outcomes research is lung cancer, which is a leading cause of death and illness. health inequalities in New Zealand and has been highlighted as a priority area in the New Zealand Cancer Action Plan1.

“Maori are four times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-Maori, an unacceptable disparity that has not changed for at least 20 years. If we are to eliminate the significant health inequalities in cancer outcomes that exist in Aotearoa New Zealand and ensure that future public health initiatives do not unintentionally exacerbate them, it is essential that we conduct focused research on equity from the start,” says Professor Collings.

Professor Diana Sarfati, CEO of Te Aho o Te Kahu, explains that the research topics have been selected to align with the organization’s commitment to improving equity in cancer outcomes in Aotearoa.

“We prioritize lung cancer research because lung cancer is our biggest cancer killer – more than 1,700 people die of lung cancer every year – and our most inequitable cancer. We are thrilled to enable research that has the potential to make a huge difference for whānau living with lung cancer in Aotearoa.

Maori epidemiologist Associate Professor Jason Gurney (Ngāpuhi) from the University of Otago, Wellington, and his team received funding to bring together new and existing information to help improve lung cancer services for Maori in New Zealand, with a view to achieving equity in lung cancer survivorship for Maori by 2030 .

“With 300 deaths a year, about the same number of Maori die from lung cancer as die from the six most common causes of cancer death combined. Our own recent research shows stark disparities in survival across all stages of lung cancer, suggesting that access to potentially curative treatment is not equal between Maori and non-Maori, regardless of stage. says Associate Professor Gurney.

“This project will explicitly focus on understanding the role of cancer services in perpetuating inequities in lung cancer survival and identifying factors that could be changed in the short to medium term.”

The University of Otago also focuses on equity in lung cancer outcomes Associate Professor Aniruddha Chatterjee and his team who received $1.2 million in funding to develop an innovative, highly sensitive and cost-effective molecular blood test to identify lung cancers in New Zealand’s diverse population at an earlier stage.

“Although surgery and radiation therapy are effective treatments for early-stage lung cancer, 80% of patients are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease, when their tumors are no longer curative,” says Associate Professor Chatterjee .

“By developing a test that identifies the presence of tumors from plasma-derived DNA, our team aims to improve the diagnostic performance and accuracy of the proposed national low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening program and improve lung cancer outcomes. Since this test would only require a peripheral blood sample, sampling could be done within the community by rural nurses, marae-based clinics and general practitioners at any time, reducing geographical inequalities and ethnic.

In addition to lung cancer, the gynecologist Dr. Georgina McPherson from the Waitematā District Health Board has received funding to identify potential contributors to delayed diagnosis of endometrial or uterine cancer, which is on the rise in New Zealand, particularly among young pre-menopausal Pacific women. While Maria Ngawati (Ngāti Hine) from Maori public health provider Hāpai te Hauora Tapui will pilot a new cancer care service model for Maori that involves oncology services and whānau ora providers teaming up to localize cancer care cancer in Maori community settings.

The Department of Health’s chief scientific adviser, Ian Town, said the research projects would support a healthy and equitable future for all New Zealanders.

“We want to help all New Zealanders live longer and have the best possible quality of life, and we have a particular focus on Maori, Pacific, disabled and rural communities. It is also a major priority for reforms in the health and disability sector. Research like this will help inform how clinical care will be planned and delivered to meet the needs of all people who use the healthcare system,” he says.

See below for the full list of recipients of the 2021 Equitable Cancer Outcomes Request for Proposals.

1 https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/new-zealand-cancer-action-plan-2019-2029

2021 Equitable Cancer Outcomes Request for Proposals – Recipients

Funding Stream 1: Lung Cancer Screening
(Funded by the Health Research Council and Te Aho o Te Kahu, the Cancer Control Agency)

  • Professor Sue CrengleWaitematā District Health Board
    Lung cancer screening: ethnic weighting test for risk prediction among Maori
    36 months, $1,936,535

Funding Stream 2: Improving Clinical Cancer Care
(Funded by the Health Research Council and the Department of Health)

  • Associate Professor Aniruddha ChatterjeeUniversity of Otago
    A national strategy to improve lung cancer outcomes through molecular testing
    36 months, $1,222,392
  • Associate Professor Jason GurneyUniversity of Otago, Wellington
    Equity by 2030: Achieving Equity in Lung Cancer Survival for Maori
    24 months, $799,945
  • Professor Ross Lawrenson,
    Waikato District Health Board
    Improving care and outcomes for lung cancer patients
    24 months, $719,825
  • Dr. Georgina McPhersonWaitematā District Health Board
    Maori and Pacific women’s pre-diagnosis experiences of uterine cancer
    12 months, $261,413
  • Mrs. Maria NgawatiHāpai te Hauora Tapui
    Te Pae Ora – Whānau ora navigating local cancer care delivery
    36 months, $1,256,425

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Ashley C. Reynolds