The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 19 percent across the total population of Aotearoa New Zealand, and even lower for Māori. That stark statistic framed discussions in this month’s Grand Round Research Symposium, which focused on lung cancer.  

Held during the lunch hour on Monday 8 April, the Grand Round was hosted by University of Auckland Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Paine and featured presentations from Professor Sue Crengle on the latest developments in Te Oranga Pūkahukahu lung cancer screening research, Associate Professor Jason Gurney on the potential impact of changes to New Zealand’s smokefree legislation and Professor Ross Lawrenson on the successful Lung Hauora Day initiative led by service provider Te Kōhao Health. 

In a first for the Grand Round, a personal story delivered by Northland-based general surgeon Dr Maxine Ronald provided a scene-setter to illustrate the importance of lung cancer for the following research presentations.  

The recording of the session is now available for anyone to view, here(opens in a new tab)

Host Sarah-Jane Paine says the Grand Round helps academics, the health sector and the wider community understand research as a story-telling process.  

“When it’s done well, these research projects help us to understand current realities on a human level, construct new realities and bring people and whānau along the journey toward better health,” says Sarah-Jane.  

“Maxine Reynold’s kōrero about the challenges faced by her whānau – preventable if she had received adequate and timely diagnosis – shows that we must keep striving for better health and a new reality.” 

Professor Sue Crengle discussed research into how Māori are invited to lung cancer screening, particularly around centralised screening invitations or through their GP or primary care providers.  

“The data also indicates that over 90 percent of people assessed of being at higher risk of lung cancer, opted for a CT scan. It’s early days but we’re seeing a 100 percent uptake for second scans,” says Professor Crengle.  

As part of his presentation, Associate Professor Jason Gurney outlined key survivability rates for Māori suffering from lung cancer, compared with non-Māori.  

“Māori who are diagnosed with lung cancer are 30 percent more likely to die from the disease than non-Māori who are diagnosed. We’re talking about a lot of people, which adds up to a lot of excess, and unnecessary, death.  

“The impacts on Māori are so great that lung cancer is not only priority #1, it is priority #2, #3, #4 and probably #5 too. If you add up the number of all Māori who die from lung cancer, it roughly equates to the next five most common cancers combined,” says Associate Professor Gurney. 

Professor Ross Lawrenson shared insights into a ‘lung health day’ initiative supported by service provider Te Kōhao Health, aimed at improving early diagnosis.  

“Of the 153 people we spoke with that day, 46 percent were registered with Te Kōhao, and a further 20 percent we couldn’t ascertain whether they were registered with any GP. We found that people really appreciated being able to access the screening and didn’t feel threatened by the idea.  

“We also found that culturally appropriate and safe environments, with music, te reo Māori and a healing focus, are really important to provide confidence for Māori to access screening, often alongside other health initiatives like immunisations,” says Professor Lawrenson.  

This event was the third in the Grand Round research symposium series, with another being planned for May. To view the webinar on lung cancer please visit this page