Prevalence of invasive cancer in a large general practice patient population in New Zealand

The prevalence and detection of cancer in the community is likely to be increasing due to an ageing population, implementation of cancer screening programs and advances in cancer treatment. In this study, the researchers sought to determine the prevalence of primary invasive cancers in a large general practice patient population in New Zealand and to characterise the health-care status of these patients. During the study period there were 206 cancer diagnoses in 201 patients. Of the 1887 registered Māori patients, 35 cancers were diagnosed (1.9%) and 171 cancers in 9487 non-Māori patients (1.8%). The most prevalent cancers were breast, male genital organ, digestive organ and skin cancers. At the time of data collection, 41% of  patients with cancer were receiving usual care from their general practitioner, compared to 33% having their cancer managed in secondary care. These results suggest that there may be disparities in cancer prevalence between Māori and non-Māori patients, although this needs to be investigated further with a larger cohort. Primary care appears to be responsible for most of the care in this patient cohort and workloads must be planned accordingly.

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