Bowel Cancer Atlas

Bowel cancer is New Zealand’s cancer. Each year, as many kiwis (approximately 1200) will lose their lives to bowel cancer, as to breast and prostate cancers combined. Instead of leading the world in terms of the numbers of people affected by bowel cancer and deaths from bowel cancer, we need to lead the world in terms of finding solutions to this disease and improving outcomes for patients.

The bowel cancer Atlas domain presents access, quality and outcome indicators across district health boards and Regional Cancer Network regions for people diagnosed with bowel cancer (adenocarcinoma of the colon or rectum).

The goal of the Atlas is to explore whether there are wide variations between DHBs in the incidence, treatment and, where possible, outcomes in particular disease areas. The Atlas is designed to prompt debate and raise questions about why differences exist and to stimulate improvement through this debate.

This can act as a trigger to spur local action to determine the causes and, if appropriate, local quality improvement activities to improve the quality of care and equity of health care services and outcomes for New Zealanders.

Atlas Summary

  • Twenty three percent of people had localised disease spread, and 21 percent had distant disease spread at the time of their bowel cancer diagnosis. About a quarter of people with bowel cancer were diagnosed following a visit to an emergency department (ED).
  • Two-thirds of people with bowel cancer had surgery in a public hospital
  • On average people stayed in a public hospital for 10 days after surgery
  • Five percent of people died within three months of surgery in public hospitals
  • More than two-thirds of people were alive two years after being diagnosed with bowel cancer
  • There was wide variation between DHBs in the use of radiotherapy before surgery for people with rectal cancer
  • There was up to two-fold variation between DHBs for:
    • mortality at three months after surgery
    • surgery which usually results in a permanent colostomy for people with rectal cancer
    • Many of the indicators showed variation between ethnic groups and/or age groups. There was wide variation between DHBs for presentation rates at an emergency department (ED) prior to bowel cancer diagnosis for Māori.

Atlas key findings:

Click here to read more detailed information on the key findings from this Atlas.

Bowel Cancer Atlas:

Click here to access the Bowel Cancer Atlas.