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Med J Aust. 2004 May 17;180(10):504-7.

Long-term trends in cancer mortality for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory.

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  • 1Menzies School of Health Research, Institute of Advanced Studies, Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, NT.



To examine long-term trends in cancer mortality in the Indigenous people of the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia.


Comparison of cancer mortality rates of the NT Indigenous population with those of the total Australian population for 1991-2000, and examination of time trends in cancer mortality rates in the NT Indigenous population, 1977-2000.


NT Indigenous and total Australian populations, 1977-2000.


Cancer mortality rate ratios and percentage change in annual mortality rates.


The NT Indigenous cancer mortality rate was higher than the total Australian rate for cancers of the liver, lungs, uterus, cervix and thyroid, and, in younger people only, for cancers of the oropharynx, oesophagus and pancreas. NT Indigenous mortality rates were lower than the total Australian rates for renal cancers and melanoma and, in older people only, for cancers of the prostate and bowel. Differences between Indigenous and total Australian cancer mortality rates were more pronounced among those aged under 64 years for most cancers. NT Indigenous cancer mortality rates increased over the 24-year period for cancers of the oropharynx, pancreas and lung, all of which are smoking-related cancers.


Cancer is an important and increasing health problem for Indigenous Australians. Cancers that affect Indigenous Australians to a greater extent than other Australians are largely preventable (eg, through smoking cessation, Pap smear programs and hepatitis B vaccination).

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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