Cancer and premature mortality

The following material has been sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Premature mortality refers to deaths among people aged less than 75.

Data on premature mortality in Australia is available in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Report: Premature mortality in Australia 1997–2012 

Of all deaths in Australia in 2012, over 1 in 3 (34%) occurred among people aged less than 75 (Figure 1). That is, there were 49,692 deaths among people aged less than 75 (premature deaths).

Figure 1: Premature deaths in Australia, 2012

Premature mortality dash 1: 1 in 3 deaths among people aged <75 PNG
Over 1 in 3 deaths occurred in people aged under 75 years

Premature mortality due to cancer

Lung cancer (8.9%) was the second leading cause of premature mortality in 2010–2012. More than half (55%) of all deaths due to lung cancer were among people aged less than 75. Although lung cancer deaths may be reduced through population health interventions (e.g. anti-smoking campaigns), there are few options for reducing mortality after the condition has developed. Therefore, deaths from lung cancer are not considered potentially avoidable. Lung cancer was the leading cause of death among females aged less than 75 (9.4%).

Other cancers as causes of premature mortality include colorectal cancer (3.9%, ranked 4th), breast cancer (3.5%, ranked 6th), melanoma (1.7%, ranked 17th) and prostate cancer (1.6%, ranked 18th). Breast cancer was the second leading cause of death among females aged less than 75 (9.2%) and prostate cancer was the 10th leading cause of death among males aged less than 75 (2.6%).