Aussies more likely to survive cancer than Kiwis, says study

The Cancer Society says urgent action must be taken to improve cancer survival rates

This call comes after a study found Australians with most types of cancer have a better chance of surviving than patients in New Zealand.

John Cocks - better known as Cocksy - is used to fronting the camera to talk building in home renovation shows.

Today, he's talking about something a little more personal - the terminal kidney cancer diagnosis he received in 2016.

"My prognosis at the time was two years, which I've just about got to," he says.

The publicly funded drug that was shrinking tumours in his lungs and spine has stopped working. His only option now is to pay $112,000 a year for Keytruda through the private healthcare system.

"When you've got a disease that is going to kill you and there's no other options, you pay."

The news that Australia has higher rates of cancer survival doesn't surprise him, as he believes they have better treatment options.

The Cancer Society's medical director Chris Jackson agrees.

"The things we need to do differently are better detection, protection and treatment for cancer," he says.

The Concord-3 study looked at 37 million cancer patients across the world, focusing on 18 cancer types.

New Zealand's five-year survival rates were among the highest, but lagged behind countries like Australia with most cancers.

That included the four most common ones diagnosed here - women's breast cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma and lung cancer.

Advocates are using these results to lobby for urgent change.

"What this shows is that if we did things differently, we could have saved two-and-a half thousand lives over five years," says Mr Jackson.

Health Minister David Clark wouldn't go on camera, but says this Government will invest more in the health sector, particularly on prevention, early detection and timely treatment.

He says any lessons that can be learned from Australia's approach will be considered.

One thing Mr Cocks hopes the sector will consider is funding the patient, not just the drug.

That would mean if one treatment doesn't work, there is funding for a Plan B.