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Inequalities in cancer outcomes

Inequalities in cancer outcomes by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and socioeconomic factors  

To inform Cancer Council’s focus on reducing inequalities in cancer outcomes, a review of existing evidence was conducted to synthesise inequalities in cancer outcomes by Indigenous status and socioeconomic quintile and discuss the influencing factors.  

At the time of conducting this review, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people living in the most disadvantaged areas were 39% and 33% more likely to die from cancer, respectively. The disparity in cancer mortality among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has widened by 82 deaths per 100,000 persons in the past 20-years. Cancer outcomes were influenced by the presence of comorbidities, stage at diagnosis, and participation in national screening programs and diagnostic services, and treatment received.  

These factors relate to accessibility to health services. However, the social, economic and cultural environments within which these populations live and interact also influences outcomes, and may include personal beliefs, fears and attitudes about cancer, lower cancer symptom awareness, poor health literacy, discrimination based on race or socioeconomic status, communication difficulties and geographic isolation.  

This work highlights several critical areas requiring more research to inform initiatives to reduce existing and widening disparities in cancer outcomes. 

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