The New Zealand cancer survival rates have been lagging behind improvements being made across the Tasman, and researchers demand greater emphasis placed on preventive diagnosis.

A University of Auckland study has discovered that there is a lower chance of cancer survival in New Zealand than in Australia. This difference has soared for patients diagnosed between 2006 and 2010 compared to previous years.

The New Zealand cancer survival research found there were noticeable improvements in overall five-year survival rates; over 6 percent for men and over 3 percent for women. In comparison, New Zealand improvements were over 1.8 per cent for men and over 1.3 per cent for women.

Professor Mark Elwood says the improvements in Australia were mostly in one-year survival, hinting that factors related to prevention and diagnosis could be behind it. He says that for New Zealand cancer patients to catch up with the progress in Australia, there is a need for improvement in efforts, particularly to in improving early diagnosis starting from primary care, as well as optimum treatment, TV NZ reported.

Furthermore, he stated that when they have data on recently diagnosed 2010 patients, they will be able to see whether these trends are continuing or have changed.

The study focused on changes in survival rates between patients diagnosed from 2000 and 2005 and those diagnosed in 2006 and 2010 in each country, using information from official cancer registries, Scoop reported.

There are now also several other studies that have shown that cancer patients in New Zealand have less good outcomes when assessed in survival rate with the years after diagnosis, than patients with the same condition in Australia.

New Zealand cancer patients diagnosed in from 2006 to 2010 showed over 12 percent more deaths in the five years since diagnosis in New Zealand than in Australia. The study tested the differences with health services in terms of inequities.