The effect of general practice contact on cancer stage at diagnosis in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents of New South Wales

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Cancer Causes and Control


Purpose: Older age, risks from pre-existing health conditions and socio-economic disadvantage are negatively related to the prospects of an early-stage cancer diagnosis. With older Aboriginal Australians having an elevated prevalence of these underlying factors, this study examines the potential for the mitigating effects of more frequent contact with general practitioners (GPs) in ensuring local-stage at diagnosis. Methods: We compared the odds of local vs. more advanced stage at diagnosis of solid tumours according to GP contact, using linked registry and administrative data. Results were compared between Aboriginal (n = 4,084) and non-Aboriginal (n = 249,037) people aged 50 + years in New South Wales with a first diagnosis of cancer in 2003–2016. Results: Younger age, male sex, having less area-based socio-economic disadvantage, and fewer comorbid conditions in the 12 months before diagnosis (0–2 vs. 3 +), were associated with local-stage in fully-adjusted structural models. The odds of local-stage with more frequent GP contact (14 + contacts per annum) also differed by Aboriginal status, with a higher adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of local-stage for frequent GP contact among Aboriginal people (aOR = 1.29; 95% CI 1.11–1.49) but not among non-Aboriginal people (aOR = 0.97; 95% CI 0.95–0.99). Conclusion: Older Aboriginal Australians diagnosed with cancer experience more comorbid conditions and more socioeconomic disadvantage than other Australians, which are negatively related to diagnosis at a local-cancer stage. More frequent GP contact may act to partly offset this among the Aboriginal population of NSW.

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