Footnote(s): (a) Rate per 100,000 people. Excludes non-melanoma skin cancers. Age standardised to the 2001 population.
Source(s): Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books
Cancers are among Australia's leading causes of death and are the major contributor to the burden of disease and injury in Australia (Begg et al. 2007). Cancer affects both the physical and emotional wellbeing of individuals and their families. It represents significant costs to the community and economy in terms of the provision of health care infrastructure, absence from work and premature mortality (ABS 2005).
Cancer is predominantly a disease of older people, and the longer people live, the more likely they are to die from cancer. So whilst the number of new cancer cases in Australia has increased, part of this growth is due to the ageing of Australia's population.
The incidence rate (the number of new cases identified per year) for all cancers increased from 462 cases per 100,000 people in 1996 to 480 cases per 100,000 people in 2006 (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, which are by far the most common). The incidence rate was higher for men than for women. By the age of 85, 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 women will have been diagnosed with cancer at some stage of their life (AIHW 2010b).
Deaths and survival
The standardised death rate for men from Cancer decreased from 262 to 232 deaths per 100,000 men between 1998 and 2008. For women the decrease was from 156 deaths to 144 deaths per 100,000 women between 1998 and 2008 (ABS 2010a; ABS 2010g).
Changes in death rates from Cancer depend on changes of incidence, the stage at diagnosis, prevention, better diagnostic tools, and, in part, on improvements in treatment techniques. For example, early detection through the BreastScreen Australia screening program and improvements in treatment have contributed to the five-year relative survival for breast cancer in females improving from 72% for those diagnosed in 1982-1986 to 88% for those diagnosed in 1998-2004 (AIHW 2010b).
Cancer survival rates from 1982-1986 to 1998-2004 show that the proportion of cancer patients surviving five years or longer increased from 41% to 58% for men, and 53% to 64% for women (AIHW 2010b). However, gains in survival have not been consistent across all forms of cancer. The survival rate for brain cancer remained at between 18% and 21% over the 20 years to 2004 for both men and women (AIHW 2010b).
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