More New Zealanders die from cancer than any other health condition except for cardiovascular disease. From 1960 onwards, our cancer death rate has been increasing considerably faster than those of Australia, Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom. For our leading causes of cancer death in men (lung cancer) and women (breast cancer), our rates are also higher than those in Australia. One way of helping to address these unfortunate trends is by having and implementing a New Zealand Cancer Control Strategy (NZCCS).
Cancer control is an organised approach to the reduction of cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality. It provides a systematic approach to:
A cancer control strategy is a framework that leads to an organised approach to cancer control. It helps ensure careful planning, making the best use of available resources. A cancer control strategy also identifies responsibilities for various government and non-government agencies in implementing the strategy. As well as the high-level framework with enduring goals, objectives and principles, the strategy should also contain evidence-based, cost-effective priority actions which would be monitored and reviewed every three to five years.
Because cancer has so many causes, affects so many organs and involves so many different approaches, comprehensive cancer control cannot be achieved by any single organisation. For these reasons both government and non-government organisations need to be involved in the development of the NZCCS. Overseas, non-government organisations have often provided the major impetus for the development of national cancer control strategies, with the development phase then carried out in partnership, and the onus for implementation assumed by the government. This is proving to be the case also in New Zealand.
The impetus to develop a NZCCS was provided by the 1999 Cancer Control Workshop. The widely representative participants unanimously called for the development of a strategy by a network of relevant organisations with a commitment to cancer control. The New Zealand Cancer Control Trust was formed in response to this directive with initial funding from the Cancer Society of New Zealand and the Child Cancer Foundation. The objects of the Trust are outlined in the next section.
Since its formation in February 2001, the Trust has assumed a key role in developing a NZCCS and has established itself as an authority on cancer control. Under contract to the Ministry of Health, it has produced the following reports:
Other key achievements involving the Trust include: