Study finds young Kiwis have lower chance of surviving cancer here than overseas

A leading cancer researcher says young Kiwis have a lower chance of surviving cancer than elsewhere.

Eighteen to 29-year-old New Zealanders are 16 percent less likely to live through cancer than in countries like England and the UK.

Access to cutting edge clinical trials could be part of the problem.

We've seen the ads - every two days a young New Zealander is diagnosed with cancer - the stats revealed today just as shocking.

Only 64 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds survive cancer compared to 80 percent in England, the United States and Germany.

The study's leader says it's time this age group stopped missing out on cutting-edge treatment.

"We're talking about people dying - young people dying and that shouldn't be happening," said Dr Ruth Spearing, haematologist.

While around 80 percent of children are offered international trials, only around 2 percent of young adolescents get the same chance.

Dr Spearing says our smaller population means it's difficult to set up clinical trials, which need to be individual specific.

"The ministry needs to give an instruction to DHBs that their expectation is to improve the survival in this age group and that means enabling clinicians to get into trials without so much red tape," she said.

Late diagnosis has also been identified as an issue in young adults - when Anna Hocquard was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 10 years ago she was initially told it wasn't cancer.

"I think New Zealanders do have a lot of respect for the medical field and once we go in once and they say it's fine, we don't tend to push again," she said.

"So it's just really learning about your body - what's your normal and how to advocate for yourself."

The next step in the research is going to look directly at whether there is delayed diagnosis of young adults compared with paediatrics and older patients but either way - a reminder that self-examination is key to early detection.