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Report highlights cancer diagnosis, mortality across NSW

21 August, 2007

Men in regional NSW have a higher than average chance of being diagnosed with largely preventable cancers, including those of the head, neck, lung and oesophagus, and in some areas are more prone to die from these cancers, according to one of the findings of a new report released today by The Cancer Council NSW.

The Cancer Maps for NSW 1998 to 2002 report compares cancer incidence and mortality rates by Local Government Area with NSW State average figures.

“We have seen some interesting patterns throughout NSW; for example as you move hundreds of kilometers from Bourke down towards the Victorian border, men are more likely to be diagnosed with these preventable cancers. We only see this in a few places in Sydney - although in the case of lung we also see a higher incidence in women,” said Dr Andrew Penman, CEO at The Cancer Council NSW.

While the study did not explore the reasons for these trends, according to Dr Penman local knowledge will help develop realistic solutions in the fight against these aggressive cancers.

“There are usually logical reasons why we see geographical variations in men and women being diagnosed with and dying from cancer. It can be as simple as increased access to effective services, increased awareness amongst local GPs to look out for certain symptoms, lifestyle factors such as drinking, smoking and diet or even a higher predisposition towards particular cancers among certain ethnic groups.

Other key findings from The Cancer Council's Cancer Maps report:

Men were more likely to be diagnosed with head and neck cancer in areas such as South Sydney, Leichhardt and Sydney's southern suburbs.

Women were more likely to be diagnosed and have a higher mortality rate of lung cancer in areas such as Penrith, South Sydney and Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Women were more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in Sydney, particularly in southern and western suburbs, but less likely to be diagnosed with this form of cancer outside of Sydney.

There was a higher incidence of liver cancer for both men and women in inner Sydney, eastern suburbs and western suburbs of Sydney.

There was a higher incidence of melanoma of the skin for both men and women, particularly in Southern and Northern coastal areas, but there were few differences in mortality.

The mortality rates for all cancers in men were higher than state average when moving north from Sydney along the coast to Newcastle and south along the coast to Shoalhaven. Higher mortality rates were also observed for male residents in western suburbs of Sydney.

Women on the North Shore, in areas such as North Sydney, Manly, Lane Cove, Warringah and Hornsby, were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer . Yet across NSW, there were no significantly higher mortality rates in any one area.

“This report is the first step in identifying community needs and moving towards a more equitable cancer prevention and treatment strategy,” Dr Penman said.

The report was compiled by the Cancer Epidemiology Research Unit of The Cancer Council NSW, using data obtained from the NSW Central Cancer Registry.

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