Cancer Council NSW has found that Chinese migrants in Australia are struggling with support and information about cancer.
Chinese migrants affected by cancer are vulnerable to delayed diagnosis and poorer access to healthcare due to language barriers, health experts say.
More than half of all cancer patients and survivors from Chinese migrant communities report unmet information needs, like being unable to understand their doctor or understand the health care system, according to a new study by Cancer Council NSW.
The literature review, which looked at access to cancer information in six different countries, including Australia, found Chinese migrants were at risk of a range of negative treatment outcomes.
They include delayed diagnoses, poorly coordinated care and being unable to communicate with a doctor. Left unchecked, these issues could leave them worse off than other Australians.
Health professionals in Australia say the information vacuum is stoking fear and anxiety among some members of the Chinese Australian community.
Professor Danforn Lim, from the University of Technology Sydney, said it can cause a flow-on effect with depression and anxiety.
“As the largest migrant group from non-English speaking countries living in Australia, research shows the Chinese migrant community has high prevalence of unmet information and support needs, which is significantly associated with elevated anxiety and depression and poorer quality of life,” Professor Lim said.
Annie Miller, from Cancer Council NSW, said Chinese migrants in Australia reported a low level of health literacy and many said they switched off when medical staff referred them to information in English.
“For example, one Cantonese patient recalled that he didn’t understand his English-speaking doctor, so he had no idea what stage his cancer was," she said.
"He agreed to a treatment path without being fully informed, which left him feeling frustrated and helpless."
Cancer Council NSW will on Friday launch three Chinese spoken webinars with Professor Lim to address the issue.
The webinars will be free and participants can log on from anywhere around Australia. Each webinar will feature a panel of speakers including industry experts and community members affected by cancer.
INSIGHT (2014): Cancer Breakthroughs