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New Zealand men with a late prostate cancer diagnosis currently losing $300 million in earnings

Categories: Latest News,Medical,Prostate Matters

News Release
14 September 2022

New Zealand men with a late prostate cancer diagnosis currently losing $300 million in earnings

New research presented at the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand’s (PCFNZ) annual conference held at the end of August showed a late diagnosis of prostate cancer not only contributes to negative health outcomes for New Zealand men, adversely affects their employment earnings by an average of $12,000 over four years, compared to no loss of earnings with an early diagnosis.

The research was presented by Sarah Hogan, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Principal Economist at the conference, which this year focused on early detection and survivorship.

NZIER matched 969 prostate cancer participants to a non-cancer control group in terms of similar demographics, health status, health service utilisation, employment, earnings, and income support status. By using exact case and propensity score matching, with minimal sample loss occurring, higher quality data was captured with a lower proportion of bias.

“While $12,000 in lost earnings over four years, was the average for the research group, the older men were at diagnosis seems to significantly impact lost earnings. We saw an average earning loss of $17,606 for men aged 60-64 at diagnosis versus $9,278 for younger men under 60,” says Hogan.

“This raises questions as to whether the health system, in relation to the diagnosis of prostate cancer, is disproportionately disadvantaging older men, who still have considerable earning potential for years to come.

“Or is the greater loss of income down to older men feeling forced into reducing their working hours or changing their type of employment following their diagnosis, while their younger counterparts feel more confident to continue to earn? With an average life expectancy for New Zealand men of 80 years the potential impact of forced early retirement and $17,606 in lost earnings over four years is substantial.”

According to Prostate Cancer Foundation New Zealand (PCFNZ) 42,000 men are currently living in New Zealand with prostate cancer.

“Using the NZ Cancer Registry codes for diagnosis, nearly 60% of all prostate cancer patients experience a late diagnosis. That means 24,780 of these men will experience an average loss of earnings of $12,000 – earlier diagnosis could potentially have avoided a total loss of over $300 million in reduced earnings,” says Hogan.

The research also shows younger men (under 60) who receive a late prostate cancer diagnosis have a statistically significant probability of increased social welfare dependency six months post-diagnosis. So, not only are men experiencing loss of earnings through late diagnosis, their risk of unemployment and reliance on social welfare support increased.

For Māori men a late diagnosis also translates to significant lost earnings. Hogan found that the late diagnosis group amongst Māori mean saw an earnings loss of approximately 9% suggesting these individuals were significantly financially impacted by their late cancer diagnosis.

This is supported by further investigation into welfare dependency and employment for Māori men, which showed an increased reliance on social welfare 48 months after diagnosis compared with matched controls. Māori men also experienced a statistically significant impact on reduction in employment status. These findings are important equity considerations as Māori men are more likely to be diagnosed late and more likely to earn lower incomes to begin with.

Peter Dickens, the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s CEO says, “If we could ensure every man with prostate cancer was diagnosed early via a simple PSA blood test, we could reduce the number of deaths by 40% and save 280 dads, partners, colleagues, brothers, friends, and sons every year.

“Early diagnosis delivers better health outcomes, prevents New Zealand men from dying needlessly and avoids the loss of millions of dollars of earnings. The research from NZIER clearly shows that early diagnosis significantly reduces the financial burden on men and their whānau – $300 million is a staggering number of potentially avoidable lost earnings. Added to this the increased probability of welfare dependency and the outlook of a late prostate cancer diagnosis makes for pretty bleak realities for Kiwi men.”

PCFNZ is committed to advocating for New Zealand men living with prostate cancer, to ensure they get better health outcomes. By supporting Blue September, PCFNZ’s primary fundraising event, you will be supporting the 1 in 8 Kiwi men affected by prostate cancer. ‘Do Something Blue’ to help a mate through during the month of September and help give a voice to New Zealand men living with prostate cancer – www.blueseptember.org.nz.