'It's going to take me out': Patrick Gower opens up on cancer fears

"It's going to take me out."

That's the heartbreaking admission by Patrick Gower after the World Health Organisation (WHO) released disturbing new cancer findings.

New Zealand has the highest cancer rate in the world. Nearly half of all Kiwi men, and a third of all women, will get cancer - causing 30 percent of all deaths.

And the news gets even worse. The WHO expects the number of Kiwis affected by cancer over the next 12 to 15 years to increase by 50 percent.

Newshub's national correspondent took the brave step of talking to The Project about his fear that he'll die from cancer.

"I'm one of those people, I'm really paranoid about cancer," he said on Monday night.

"I actually do think that it's going to take me out, because it took my mother out 10 years ago. She died of lung cancer, so all day I've been grappling with this."

Cancer Society medical director Dr Chris Jackson told The Project the mains causes of rising cancer levels are due to an ageing population, and lifestyle factors like diet and exercise.

"With an ageing population structure, we know the number affected is going up and up and up," he told host Jesse Mulligan.

"We have one of the world's highest rates of bowel cancer in New Zealand... and we've also got high rates of breast and prostate cancer.

"We've got the world's highest rate of melanoma and other skin cancers."

But Dr Jackson says there's good news - there's a lot we can do to reduce our risk of cancer.

"If it's business as usual we're in trouble," he told Mulligan.

"There are things we can do. If we are one of the few people who still smoke we can knock that off, we can all have a think before we have that next drink and we could probably all do with losing a few extra kgs."

Gower agrees, saying New Zealand can do more to help people who face cancer.

"I know we can do more to help other people," he says.

"Access to medicine, access to treatment around New Zealand and just watching things like that [someone dying] is deeply hurtful."

But facing a 50 percent chance of suffering through the same disease that claimed his loved one's life preys on Gower's mind.

"What do you do when it's in your mind that it's going to take you out?" he says.

"Even a recurring cough, I've gone to my GP and basically forced her to give me a test to say I don't have cancer."