Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous people and is responsible for more deaths each year than diabetes and kidney disease.

While the death rate for all cancers combined is significantly higher for Indigenous Australians than other Australians, Indigenous Australians have a much lower incidence of cancers commonly diagnosed in the non-Indigenous population and a much higher incidence of less common cancers.   These include cervical, liver, uterus, lung and other smoking-related cancers. For example, the incidence rate of cervical cancer is almost three times higher for Indigenous Australians than for non-Indigenous Australians (18 and 7 per 100 000, respectively).

Indigenous adult cancer patients report substantial unmet supportive care needs, including provision of transport and appropriate travel arrangements, suitable accommodation for both the patient and their support person and extra psychological support.

To address these health disparities, Menzies has established two major Indigenous cancer focused initiatives: The DISCOVER-TT Centre of Research Excellence and a Strategic Research Priority program, STREP-CaCInDA. Menzies has also formed the National Indigenous Cancer Network (NICaN) in partnership with the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, the Lowitja Institute and Cancer Council Australia.