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Comparing colorectal cancer treatment and survival for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in New South Wales

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Previous studies of colorectal cancer survival in New South Wales,1 South Australia,2 Queensland3 and the Northern Territory4 have found that survival tended to be poorer for Aboriginal than for non-Aboriginal people. These studies identified disease factors and less access to primary and follow-up treatments as possible reasons for the survival disparities.

The recommended treatment for colorectal cancer is generally surgery combined with adjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy, depending on the cancer type and extent of disease.5,6 Treatment guidelines also highlight the importance of post-surgical follow-up care, as one in three people will die from disease recurrence after initial treatment.3 However, the Australian guidelines available during the study period for this article did not describe a specific protocol for follow-up care.5,6

Our main aim was to compare the treatment and survival rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people diagnosed with colorectal cancer in NSW using routinely collected, population-based linked data. We also estimated the proportions of a sample of NSW Aboriginal…