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Source: University of Otago

Dr Stephen Inns
A University of Otago researcher is using a kaupapa Māori approach to break down barriers surrounding access to gastric and colon cancer screening for Māori.
Dr Stephen Inns and his team from the University of Otago, Wellington secured almost $250,000 from the Health Research Council in their latest round of Feasibility grants. They will develop a strategy to combine screening for stomach and bowel cancer together, for 50 to 60 year old Māori.Māori have higher rates of stomach cancer, as well as much higher rates of H.pylori, a bacterium that causes stomach cancer.
H.pylori can be detected with a stool test and then treated with antibiotics to prevent stomach cancer. Screening for, and treating, H. pylori can halve the risk of stomach cancer.

“These are two issues where things need to be different and useful and helpful for Māori, and those are things where we can do something for Māori designed by Māori.”

Similarly, bowel cancer can be screened for using a stool test which looks for the presence of blood. However, while the stool test can ultimately reduce the chance of dying of bowel cancer by 16-22 percent, Māori have lower participation rates than non-Māori in Aotearoa.
The funding will allow for he and co-investigators, including Cheryl Davies from Kōkiri Marae in Wellington, to co-design the study and centre it in kaupapa Māori.
Dr Inns says it is important the planned randomised controlled full study that will come from this initial research is conducted in a meaningful way.
“From the conversations we’ve been having, Māori have felt the tools for colon cancer weren’t perfect. We don’t have the levels of access to screening for Māori that we do for non-Māori.
Cheryl Davies
“From there grows the idea that redesigning screening tools will help create better access.”
The combined screening study will determine whether adding H.pylori screening to the standard bowel screening will affect the screening population.
Dr Inns says two equity issues surround the current testing model. The first is the standardisation of the current national screening programme for those between 60 and 75 is inequitable, when Māori don’t have the same ageing population. The second is the high levels of gastric cancer rates in Māori, which are some of the highest worldwide.
“These are two issues where things need to be different and useful and helpful for Māori, and those are things where we can do something for Māori designed by Māori.”

MIL OSI