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Cancer in Indigenous Australians: A review

Project summary

Cancer has only recently been regarded as an important health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Although other health problems might have more focus, cancer is the leading cause of death for Indigenous Australians, as for all Australians (17% and 30% of all deaths, respectively, in 2005). This project comprises a two-part series of reviews on cancer and its impact on Indigenous Australians.

The first review on cancer in Indigenous Australians reported the limited information published up to 2001, which related mostly to risk-factors, prevalence and mortality statistics. At the time, there was little information on cancer incidence, diagnosis, treatment and survival, or on time patterns in this population.

The second review provides an up-to-date assessment of cancer, including the demographic and socioeconomic context; patterns of incidence, mortality, treatment, and survival; key risk factors; screening participation; and the views of Indigenous people on cancer and cancer treatment.

Summary of outcomes

The reviews have strengthened the evidence base for improving prevention and control of cancer in Indigenous Australians. A more complete picture of cancer occurrence, causation, and control in Indigenous Australians can now be presented.

Key findings

The project found that:

Main messages

The research indicates that:


The first review was published in 2003, and the second in 2008.


Project leader

John Condon

Administering institution:

Menzies School of Health Research