Failure to diagnose and treat preventable cancers is killing New Zealanders, a Christchurch oncologist says.
In an editorial in the New Zealand Medical Journal (NZMJ), Christchurch Hospital radiation oncologist Chris Wynne said a 2005-2010 review of the Cancer Control Strategy showed it was failing to reduce cancer rates and deaths.
"Failure to implement New Zealand's Cancer Control Strategy according to agreed timelines will cost New Zealand many deaths from preventable cancer."
The review found that 15 per cent of the 150-plus strategy objectives had been met.
Dr Wynne told The Press that the Ministry of Health had to ensure better results in tackling cancer, and called for more funding.
The Cancer Control Council was responsible for making sure the strategy was enacted and advising the health minister who was ultimately responsible for tackling high cancer rates, he said.
However, Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said cancer control was a government priority and that since 2005, about an extra $80m a year had been spent on new funding for cancer and palliative-care initiatives.
He said progress had been made in implementing the strategy and cited the record low numbers of smokers.
As per usual, all of the talk and all of the funding (Most of it anyway) is on detecting and treating after the fact. Better diagnosis is not prevention. Prevention is what happens before there is anything to detect and diagnose. Care needs to be taken not to confuse these.
What is effective in preventing, or reducing cancer risk will not necessarily fight or cure the cancer once it is a fact. Again, there is a lot of confusing of these.
It still astonishes and frustrates me that health experts still do not actively promote the single most important cancer prevention measure: Vitamin D.
- 60% reduction in all cancers among post-menopausal women!
- 50% reduction in lifetime breast cancer risk!
If a drug was invented that had this power, there would be Noble Prizes awarded to all and billions of dollars in the bank. Vitamin D is free from the sun and one of the cheapest nutritional supplements about. It can not be patented. Sunlight is free. Is this why little attention is given to this natural nutrient powerhouse? Despite the wealth of evidence.
Of course there are many more cancer prevention measures that are mostly based around natural nutrition. There is enough collective evidence about what we can do right now to slash cancer rates.
Instead, we overly focus on melanoma (Not that we shouldn't be trying to reduce melanoma rates - of course!). Which the Cancer Society profits from through booming sales of their sunscreen lotions, hats, sunglasses, etc.
Perhaps, a representative of the Cancer Society or the Ministry of Health would like to write in and explain why they are not doing more to prevent cancer from developing in the first place?
Do you have a question?
Email Gary: gary at myotec.co.nz (Replace the "at" with @ and remove spaces). Please include any relevant background information to your question.