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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Key references

References for the key publications about cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are listed here.


Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (2011)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework: 2010 report.

Canberra: Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Department of Health and Ageing

This is the third report developed under the auspice of the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council to measure progress against the National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health as well as the more recent measures introduced under Closing the gap national partnerships.

The performance framework reports on the three tiers of health:

  • health status and outcomes: this includes measures of prevalence of disease or injury, human function, life expectancy and wellbeing
  • measures of the health determinants: this includes socioeconomic status, environmental factors and health behaviours
  • health system performance: this includes effectiveness, responsiveness, accessibility and sustainability.
Major findings of the report include:
  • a significant decline in Indigenous deaths due to avoidable causes
  • narrowing of the mortality gap
  • reduction in infant mortality
  • chronic diseases are a continuing concern, contributing to two thirds of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
  • there were slight reductions in literacy and numeracy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students
  • risky behaviours, such as smoking and lack of physical activity, were continuing concerns among Indigenous people
  • access to, and utilisation of medical services is less than expected given higher levels of illness
  • access to medical services is more difficult in remote than non-remote areas.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


Cunningham J, Rumbold AR, Zhang X, Condon JR (2008)

Incidence, aetiology, and outcomes of cancer in Indigenous peoples in Australia.

Lancet Oncology; 9(6): 585-595


Roder D (2007)

Epidemiology of cancer in Indigenous Australians: implications for service delivery.

Paper presented at the 9th National Rural Health Conference: standing up for rural health: learning from the past, action in the future. 7-10 March 2007, Albury, NSW


Binns PL, Condon JR (2006)

Participation in cervical screening by Indigenous women in the Northern Territory: a longitudinal study.

Medical Journal of Australia; 185(9): 490-494

Condon JR, Cunningham J, Barnes T, Armstrong BK, Selva-Nayagam S (2006)

Cancer diagnosis and treatment in the Northern Territory: assessing health service performance for Indigenous Australians.

Internal Medicine Journal; 36(8): 498-505

Supramaniam R, Grindley H, Jackson Pulver L (2006)

Cancer mortality in Aboriginal people in New South Wales, Australia, 1994-2002.

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health; 30(5): 453-456

Valery PC, Coory M, Stirling J, Green AC (2006)

Cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians: a matched cohort study.

The Lancet; 367(9525): 1842-1848


Condon JR, Armstrong BK, Barnes T, Zhao Y (2005)

Cancer incidence and survival for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory.

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health; 29(2): 123-128

Objective: To compare cancer incidence and survival for the Northern Territory (NT) Indigenous population with that of other Australians, and to assess NT Indigenous incidence time trends.

Methods: Cancer registry data were used to calculate cancer incidence rate ratios (NT Indigenous to total Australian), the average annual change in NT Indigenous cancer incidence and the relative risk of cancer death after diagnosis of cancer (NT Indigenous to combined Western Australian and Tasmanian cases) for 1991-2001.

Results: For NT Indigenous people, incidence rates were high for cancers of the liver, gallbladder, cervix, vulva and thyroid and, in younger people only, for cancers of the oropharynx, oesophagus, pancreas and lung, but low for cancers of the colon and rectum, breast, ovary, prostate, bladder, kidney, melanoma and lymphoma. Incidence rate ratios ranged from 0.1 for melanoma to 7.4 for liver cancer. Incidence increased for breast and pancreatic cancers. Survival was low for almost all specific cancers examined, and for all cancers combined (relative risk of death 1.9, 95% CI 1.7-2.1).

Conclusions: Compared with other Australians, NT Indigenous people have higher, and increasing, incidence for some cancers (particularly smoking-related cancers) and lower survival for most.

Implications: Cancer has a greater impact on NT Indigenous people than other Australians. Well-established cancer risk factors should be more effectively tackled in Indigenous people and known effective screening programs more effectively implemented. Research is urgently required into the reasons why survival from cancer in NT Indigenous people is so much lower than in other Australians.

Abstract reproduced with permission of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Condon JR, Barnes T, Armstrong BK, Selva-Nayagam S, Elwood JM (2005)

Stage at diagnosis and cancer survival for Indigenous Australians at the Northern Territory.

Medical Journal of Australia; 182(6): 277-280

Roder D (2005)

Comparative cancer incidence, mortality and survival in Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Cancer Forum; 29(1): 7-9


Condon J (2004)

Cancer, health services and Indigenous Australians.

Canberra: Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health

Condon JR (2004)

Cancer in Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Charles Darwin University: Darwin, Northern Territory


Condon J, Armstrong BK, Barnes A, Cunningham J (2003)

Cancer in Indigenous Australians: a review.

Cancer Causes and Control; 14(2): 109-121

The aim of this article was to summarise evidence of the impact of cancer on Indigenous Australians. Details of publications found in a Medline search of peer-reviewed scientific journals, government reports and publications of cancer registries, non-government organisations, and non peer-reviewed sources are reported. An analysis of the content of these publications led to recommendations for health services and programs.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Last updated: 10 April 2014
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