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        • » Breast and cervical cancer in Northern Territory Aboriginal women

Breast and cervical cancer in Northern Territory Aboriginal women

by Condon J

Conference presentation
Year 1999
Conference name Australasian Epidemiological Association Annual Scientific Meeting
Conference location Carlton Hotel,Darwin, Northern Territory,30 September - 1 October 1999


In the NT, part of the funding for breast cancer screening has been transferred (with the agreement of the national program) to fund a well women's health program in remote communities. This is partly because of low breast cancer incidence and high cervical cancer incidence in NT Aboriginal women (economic and logistic reasons are also important).

The reliability of previously reported low Aboriginal breast cancer incidence has been uncertain because of possibly incomplete case detection and identification. For the years 1991-1997, the NT Cancer Register now has very high case detection and accurate identification of indigenous status. Aboriginal breast cancer incidence was less than half, and cervical cancer incidence more than double, NT non-Aboriginal and Australian rates. However, NT Aboriginal breast cancer mortality was similar to, and cervical cancer mortality over ten times higher than, Australian rates.

The decision to transfer funds to a more 'holistic' women's health program (including Pap smear screening) is supported by reliable breast and cervical cancer incidence rates. However, this is a 'normative' decision, which is not yet supported by adequate evidence of the health priorities of the women involved.

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Last updated: 5 February 2009
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