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First Nations cancer patients more likely to die of cancer in BC: study

Last Updated Sep 25, 2017 at 8:57 am PDT

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The number of First Nations people dying of cancer is higher when compared to non-First Nations

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – You’ve got a better chance of surviving cancer in this province if you’re not part of the First Nations population, according to a new study.

In 10 of 12 cancer types examined, First Nations men saw worse survival rates than other men in this province and in 10 of 15 cancers affecting women, First Nations women were more likely to die once receiving a diagnosis.

“That was very distressing to see,” explains Dr. Nadine Caron with the UBC Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health. “Unfortunately, as a First Nations physician, I can’t say that I was surprised by it, but it was sad to see it in numbers that just don’t lie. It was a study that was very robust.”

The study points to the need for more culturally safe health and social services to reduce barriers to health care.

“The First Nations Health Authority and the BC Cancer Agency are working together to develop a cancer strategy, and they’re going to use this type of information to know how they’re going to move forward,” says Caron. “Everything from ensuring cultural safety and cultural humility in the health care system, to addressing inequities to primary care access, to getting the voices of wellness and prevention and screening as a priority for first nations health care services and some great changes are going to come out of this, and this paper is the foundation for that.”

The study was carried out jointly by the BC Cancer Agency and First Nations Health Authority, using a data set from 1993 to 2010 — that data relates only to “Status Indians” and does not include all First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in BC.