News State NSW News Cancer rates much higher in Aboriginal people

Cancer rates much higher in Aboriginal people

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A health professional from Armidale says Aboriginal people are more likely to die as a result of a cancer diagnosis.

Dr Coralie Wales from the Life Beyond Cancer Project says the bad experience of others can deter many people from seeking help themselves.

An Aboriginal Family Fun Day is being held in Armidale on Saturday to highlight the importance of early intervention when a health problem arises.

Dr Wales says Aboriginal people also often focus on their family, rather than their own individual health.

“So, if I’m an Aboriginal mum, I will put my focus on the children and their needs come first and I might never get around to going and getting any help or any attention,” she said.

“I guess, coupled with that, there is a history of bad experience and if I see my neighbour going to hospital because they’re really ill and then I see that they don’t come out of hospital, the problem with that is that I might think cancer means death.”

Dr Wales says the Institute of Health and Welfare report shows Aboriginal people are twice as likely to die from cancer.

It has also found Aboriginal women are four times more likely to die from cervical cancer.

Dr Wales says the aim of the Fun Day is to try and build a trusting relationship between health services and Aboriginal people.

She says health professionals will be available to show they can listen and help.

“There’s plenty of history there which suggests there might be a fear of the health service itself,” Dr Wales said.

“It’s not always been a friendly place for Aboriginal people, and we want the health community to be known and to be recognised as being safe and trustworthy and prepared to listen, not to judge individuals.”