Cancer Control Agency

The Cancer Control Agency is a departmental agency hosted by the Ministry of Health, that will provide strong national leadership for, and oversight of, cancer control in New Zealand.

Cancer and COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

All people, including those who are in active cancer treatment, must now stay at home. We know that many people living with cancer and their whānau are worried about what might happen with their cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those in active cancer treatment will continue to receive treatment, though there may be changes to appointments and treatment plans.

For cancer patients who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19:

  • most outpatient appointments will now be virtual consultations (such as a phone conversation), you will be contacted by your cancer clinic with the details,
  • your doctor will contact you to discuss your treatment,
  • do not stop or make changes to your cancer treatment without talking to your doctor.

For patients who are unwell: 

  • phone your cancer clinic to let them know you are unwell,
  • if you are sick hospital is still the safest place to be. PLEASE PHONE FIRST,
  • do not stop or make changes to your cancer treatment without talking to your doctor.

We know people and their whanau living with cancer will be worried about COVID-19 and what it might mean for their wellbeing and treatment plans. The best source of accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is available on this website.

People with reduced immunity, including some people living with cancer and those undergoing chemotherapy, are at a higher risk from COVID-19. For information on symptoms, how the virus spreads and simple measures to minimise exposure refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Health Advice page.

The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) questions and answers page provides the most recent advice for immune-compromised people and their whānau.

We will be working with clinicians, Cancer Centres, DHBs, Regional Cancer Networks and our own staff and advisory groups to work through the issues that COVID-19 is creating for cancer services.

Role and responsibilities

The Agency will drive the implementation of the Cancer Action Plan 2019–2029, which focuses on equity and delivering nationally consistent services for all New Zealanders, no matter who they are or where they live.

Key priorities for the Agency include providing strong accountability, coordination of various agencies involved in cancer, and working to implement the Cancer Action Plan.

The Agency is working closely with people impacted by cancer, including their whānau and healthcare professionals. The Agency is also actively working with Māori and Pacific leaders to ensure that they inform the work of the Agency and how we can best engage with them to meet their needs.


A Cancer Control Agency Advisory Council has been established to support the leadership and ongoing direction of cancer control in New Zealand.

An Interim Chief Executive, Professor Diana Sarfati, was appointed by the State Services Commissioner on 1 December 2019 and will be responsible for delivering the outcomes identified in the Cancer Action Plan. The Agency will operate independently, and the Chief Executive will be accountable directly to the Minister of Health.

Professor Diana Sarfati (MBChB, MPH, PhD, FNZCPHM) joins us as the interim Chief Executive for Cancer Control. As a public health physician, cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher Diana brings a commitment to improving equity and cancer outcomes through evidence-based, person-centred care and using strong collective expertise.

Diana was appointed as Head of the Department of Public Health in 2014, and is the Director of the Cancer and Chronic Conditions (C3) research group at University of Otago, Wellington. She has led a large body of research relating to ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes, particularly those affecting Indigenous peoples. This work has resulted in the identification of key patient and health system factors that influence cancer survival. It has been used extensively by health policy makers, clinicians and other researchers to develop policies and practices that aim to reduce inequities in cancer outcomes.

Diana is currently a member of the Advisory Committee to International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) Pacific cancer hub, IARC’s international expert group on social inequalities in cancer, the Academic Advisory Committee on the International Cancer Benchmarking Project, and she led a Lancet Oncology series on cancer in small island developing states. Diana is a former member of the National Screening Advisory Group, the National Ethics Advisory Committee, the Bowel Cancer Taskforce and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Advisory Committee.

The Agency is establishing five teams to deliver to the commitment areas defined in the Cancer Action Plan:

  1. Equity
  2. Treatment, Quality & Standardisation
  3. Data, Information & Reporting
  4. Patient-Centred Care
  5. Prioritisation, Innovation & Research.
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