Reports update cancer statistics
Cancer continues to be the leading cause of death in New Zealand, although death rates from the disease are trending downwards.
The information is contained in a package of updated cancer reports published jointly by the Ministry of Health and the National Health Board. Cancer: New registrations and deaths 2009 and Cancer: Historical summary 1948 – 2009, detail statistical information held in the national collections. They do not attempt to explain the observations.
The reports show almost 29 percent of all deaths in New Zealand are from cancer, although death rates have fallen by more than 16 percent since 1999.
The Ministry’s National Clinical Director, Cancer Programme, Dr Andy Simpson, says this is due largely to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.
Dr Simpson says the total number of cancer deaths generally increases each year, due to the country’s increasing population and older age structure.
“These statistics show there was a small decrease in the total number of deaths between 2008 and 2009, but it is almost certainly due to natural fluctuations in the data and it is too early to identify the beginning of a trend.”
In 2009, prostate cancer remained the most commonly registered cancer, followed by colorectal and then breast cancer. Lung cancer remained the most common cause of cancer death (18.9 percent of all cancer deaths), followed by colorectal cancer, then breast and prostate cancers.
Seventy two percent of all cancer deaths were in people aged over 65.
Māori continued to have higher rates of both registrations and deaths than non-Māori. Māori had an age-standardised cancer mortality rate of 210.0 per 100,000 Māori population compared to 119.8 for non-Māori.