Cancer in Australia statistics

Cancer is the leading cause of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia. The following information provides a summary of the national statistics on Cancer in Australia using data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Incidence

  • In 2009, there were 114,137 new cases of cancer in Australia (64,342 new cases in men and 49,795 new cases in women), excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.1
  • In 2013, about 124,910 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer. An estimated 149,990 are expected to be diagnosed in 2020.2
  • In 2009, the average age of cancer diagnosis was 65.4 years.1
  • In 2009, the risk of developing cancer before the age of 85 years was 1 in 2 in men and 1 in 3 in women.1
  • Cancer is more common in older Australians:
    • in 2009, 73.5 per cent of new cancer cases were diagnosed in men aged 60 years and over; and 63.6 per cent in women aged 60 years and over.3
  • Cancer is more common in men: in 2009, the age-standardised incidence rate of cancer was 583.5 cases per 100,000 men, compared with 404.2 cases per 100,000 women.1
  • Between 1982 and 2009, the number of new cancer cases in Australia more than doubled (from 47,471 to 114,137 cases).1,3
  • While cancer incidence rates have increased (from 383.4 to 485.7 cases per 100,000 between 1982 and 2009), cancer mortality rates have fallen (from 209.0 to 174.3 deaths per 100,000 between 1982 and 2010).1,3
  • In 2009, the five most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia were prostate cancer (19,438 cases), bowel cancer (14,410 cases), breast cancer (13,778 cases), melanoma (11,545 cases) and lung cancer (10,193 cases).1
  • In 2009, prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men. The most commonly diagnosed cancer in women was breast cancer.1

Variations between population groups

In the 5 years from 2004 to 2008, the age-standardised incidence rate of all cancers combined was:

  • significantly higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians than their non-Indigenous counterparts (461 and 434 per 100,000 respectively) (New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory).1
  • higher for people living in lower than those in higher socioeconomic status areas.1
  • significantly higher in Inner regional (504 per 100,000) than other remoteness areas.1

Mortality

  • In 2010, there were 42,844 deaths due to cancer, accounting for 3 out of every 10 deaths registered in Australia.1
  • The age-standardised mortality rate for cancer is higher for men:
    • in 2010, there were 221.7 deaths per 100,000 men from cancer, compared with 137.6 deaths per 100,000 women.1
  • Between 1982 and 2010, the age-standardised mortality rate for cancer has decreased from 209.0 deaths per 100,000 in 1982 to 174.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2010.1,3
  • In 2010, the risk of dying from cancer before the age of 85 was 1 in 4 for men and 1 in 6 for women.1
  • In 2010, the leading cause of cancer death was lung cancer (8,099), followed by bowel cancer (3,982), prostate cancer (3,235), breast cancer (2,864) and lymphoid cancers (2,769).1

Variations between population groups

In the 5 years from 2006 to 2010, the age-standardised mortality rate of all cancers combined was:

  • significantly higher for Indigenous Australians than for their non-Indigenous counterparts (249 and 174 per 100,000 respectively). (New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory).1
  • significantly higher for people living in lowest than those in higher socioeconomic status areas.1
  • significantly higher in Remote and very remote areas (196 per 100,000) than in Major cities (171 per 100,000).1

Survival

  • For 2006–2010, five-year relative survival for all cancers combined in Australia was 66.1 per cent.4
  • Relative survival rates for cancer are higher for women than for men:
    • In 2006–2010, five-year relative survival for all cancers combined was 67.4 per cent for women and 65.1 per cent for men.4
  • Relative survival rates for cancer have increased in recent years:
    • Between the periods 1982–1987 and 2006–2010, five-year relative survival increased from 46.9 per cent to 66.1 per cent. 4

Variations between population groups

In the 5 years from 2006 to 2010, the five-year relative survival from all cancers combined was:

  • significantly higher for people living in the highest (71 per cent) compared with the lowest (63 per cent) socioeconomic status areas.1
  • higher in Major cities (67 per cent) and lowest in Remote and very remote areas (63 per cent).1

Prevalence

  • At the end of 2007, there were 774,674 people in Australia who were diagnosed with cancer in the previous 26 years, including 339,077 diagnosed in the previous 5 years.1

Burden of disease

  • In 2012, cancer was estimated to be the leading cause of burden of disease in Australia, accounting for approximately 19 per cent of the total disease burden.1
  • In 2012, cancer was estimated to account to 551,300 disability adjusted life years (DALYs*) in Australia; of these, 457,400 were years lost due to premature death and 93,900 were years of healthy life lost due to disease, disability or injury.1

*DALYs are years of healthy life lost, either through premature death or through living with disability due to illness or injury. This is the basis unit used in burden of disease or injury estimates.1

References

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2012. Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2012. Cancer series no. 74. Cat. no. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW.
2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. Cancer incidence projections: Australia, 2011 to 2020. Cancer Series no. 66. Cat. No. CAN 62. Canberra: AIHW.
3. Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) Books – All Cancers combined for Australia (ICD10 C00-C97, D45-46, D47.1, D47.3). www.aihw.gov.au/cancer/data/acim_books  [Accessed January 2013].
4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: period estimates from 1982 to 2010. Cancer Series no. 69. Cat. no. CAN 65. Canberra: AIHW.