Despite a similar overall incidence of cancers, Indigenous people have higher mortality rates than other Australians. The reasons for this may include a later cancer stage at diagnosis, reduced uptake of or access to treatment, greater comorbidities, and higher rates of more aggressive cancers. However, little is known about the relative importance of each of these. 

Navigating one’s way through the health care system can be arduous and fraught with uncertainty and fear for any cancer patient. This common problem can be exacerbated for an Indigenous person. We are working towards improving Indigenous cancer patients' experiences through their cancer journey and cancer outcomes.

Our research focus:
  • To improve the survival and quality of life of Indigenous people with cancer
  • To compare the patterns of care and comorbidities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cancer patients and against clinical guidelines to identify factors that health services could modify
  • To conduct a comprehensive study of the supportive care needs and quality of life of Indigenous cancer patients
  • To test the effectiveness of an intervention combining ‘patient navigation’, cancer education and communication coaching.
Our research impact:
  • Cancer Australia has partnered with Menzies to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework, which can inform the national cancer control agenda and ultimately contribute to improved health and well being for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Our ‘Indigenous Patient Navigators’ (people who assist patients to overcome barriers to accessing care and support services) will help reduce cancer care disparities and improve cancer outcomes by providing advocacy and support for Indigenous cancer patients and their families
  • In conjunction with Cancer Council Australia, we have produced a series of plain language cancer factsheets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These help to explain cancer, cancer treatments and medical terminology.

Click here to view more cancer publications in PubMed.

Fact sheets:

The information in the fact sheets has been adapted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by Menzies School of Health Research in consultation with a Clinical Advisory Group and an Indigenous Consultation group. Production by Cancer Council.

  1. Menzies secures funding to improve Indigenous cancer outcomes

    Menzies secures funding to improve Indigenous cancer outcomes

    Date

    Menzies School of Health Research has welcomed an announcement of $2.5 million in NHMRC funding for an Indigenous-led collaboration to improve cancer outcomes for Australia’s first peoples.

  2. Identifying Indigenous cancer patients' needs

    Identifying Indigenous cancer patients' needs

    Date

    Indigenous Australians with cancer face poorer treatment and survival outcomes compared to non-Indigenous Australians due to a complex array of factors. To identify the needs of Indigenous Australians with cancer, we developed the Supportive Care Needs...

  3. Indigenous Funding Boost | NT News

    Indigenous Funding Boost | NT News

    Date

    Menzies will use NHMRC funding to boost health outcomes of Indigenous Australians through two projects.

  4. ARC | Support for Indigenous researchers

    ARC | Support for Indigenous researchers

    Date

    Preserving Indigenous audio-visual cultural material, learning about the needs of caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer survivors, and finding ways to help Indigenous small businesses prosper are amongst the important new research projects to be undertaken by Australia’s Indigenous researchers with new Australian Government funding announced today.

  5. Study examines cancer survival statistics for Indigenous Australians

    Study examines cancer survival statistics for Indigenous Australians

    Date

    Cancer Council Queensland is calling for enhanced joint efforts to improve Indigenous cancer control following the release of research findings that cancer survival is lower for Indigenous than non-Indigenous Australians for all cancers combined, and for many specific types of cancer.

  6. New unit to research high fatality rates

    New unit to research high fatality rates

    Date

    Studies have found that for cancer patients the case-fatality rates among Indigenous Australians are twice the rates of non-Indigenous cases.