Dr Minella Lalloz, a General Surgical Principal House Officer compared postoperative outcomes between ATSI and non-ATSI populations following colorectal cancer surgery at Cairns Base Hospital between 2018 and 2023.

355 patients with colorectal cancer underwent emergency or elective surgery;
9.9 per cent (35/355) identified as ATSI; 
90.1 per cent (320/355) identified as non-ATSI;
Age - 58.8 years (ATSI) v 66.8 years (non-ATSI); 
ATSI patients were associated with a significantly higher rate of medical complications, 17.1 per cent (6/35) compared to non-ATSI patients, 13.1 per cent (42/320);
ATSI patients spent longer in hospital compared to non-ATSI patients (13.1 days v 9.4 days);
ATSI patients presented with higher ASA* scores of 3 or more compared to non-ATSI patients (76.4 per cent v 60.6 per cent);
ATSI patients presented with higher rates of diabetes mellitus compared to non-ATSI patients (40 per cent v 17.5 per cent).

Dr Lalloz said unfortunately, she was not surprised by the results of the research, which captured patients as far west as the Queensland, Northern Territory border and north to the Cape York Peninsula.

“A range of factors are driving the poor preoperative outcomes for ATSI patients in North Queensland,” Dr Lalloz said.

“There are socio economic barriers to ATSI patients receiving timely treatment, they also have to travel greater distances compared to non-ATSI patients to attend appointments.

“ATSI patients present with co-morbidities and often view hospitals as not culturally safe spaces, meaning a delay in seeking appropriate treatment.”

Dr Lalloz’s research will be expanded to determine if ATSI colorectal cancer patients also have worse oncological outcomes.

“We need to fix this growing problem,” Dr Lalloz said.

“There is an opportunity to improve access to screening in rural and remote communities throughout Far North Queensland.


“Awareness and education are essential and should be delivered by a trusted Indigenous Liaison Officer.


Dr Lalloz’s research will be unveiled at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Annual Scientific Congress in Ōtautahi Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand (6-10 May).

The Congress is the largest multi-disciplinary surgical meeting held in the southern hemisphere and brings together some of the top surgical and medical minds from across Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and the rest of the world.

For more information about the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Annual Scientific Congress, please visit: https://asc.surgeons.org/


Media enquiries: 
Diana Blake, Acting Head of Marketing & Communications
Contact: +64 21 0247 8454

David McHugh, Clout PR & Content
Contact: +61 455 225 688

*The ASA score is a subjective assessment of a patient’s overall health that is based on five classes (1 to 5).

1. Patient is a completely healthy fit patient.
2. Patient has mild systemic disease.
3. Patient has severe systemic disease that is not incapacitating.
4. Patient has incapacitating disease that is a constant threat to life.
5. A moribund patient who is not expected to live 24 hours with or without surgery.