4363.0 - National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2017-18  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2019   
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This topic refers primarily to those ever told by a doctor or nurse they have cancer, and who consider they currently have cancer (including cancer in remission).

For the purposes of this survey, all cancer reported as current was regarded as being a long-term condition. Given the potential sensitivity of the topic, this was considered the most appropriate approach, although it was recognised that some cases of cancer may not meet the six month threshold (e.g. a person who is diagnosed with skin cancer and who has had surgery to successfully remove the cancer, could occur within a six month period).


Information was obtained for all persons in the NHS.


Respondents were then asked if they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had cancer, and the type of cancer (including type of skin cancer) they had.

The following predefined 'type of cancer' categories were included on the questionnaire, with provision for interviewers to record one additional type of cancer if required:

    • Skin cancer (including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma)
    • Colon/rectum/bowel cancer (colorectal)
    • Breast cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • Lung cancer (including trachea, pleura and bronchus)
    • Cervical cancer
    • Cancer of other female reproductive organs (including uterus, ovary)
    • Bladder/kidney cancer
    • Stomach cancer
    • Leukaemia
    • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
    • Other type of lymphoma
    • Cancer of unknown primary site
    • Other cancer (specified).

More than one response was allowed.

Those who reported having been told that they had skin cancer were asked what type of skin cancer they had:
    • Melanoma
    • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
    • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
    • Other form of skin cancer.

More than one response was allowed as well as a 'don't know' category.

Those who reported having been told they had cancer were also asked:
    • Whether they were currently receiving treatment for their cancer
    • Whether they currently had cancer (including cancer in remission) and , if so, the type(s) of cancer they currently had (including type of skin cancer).

For the purposes of this survey, persons in remission were regarded as still having cancer, irrespective of the period of remission. That is, they were asked "Including cancer which is in remission, do you currently have cancer?".

Respondents who identified as having breast cancer were asked at what age they were first diagnosed.

Data items

The questionnaire, data items and related output categories for this topic are available in pdf / Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered in interpreting data for this topic include the following:
    • As noted above, current cancers were assumed to be long-term (of six months or more duration), whether or not this was actually the case.
    • Those cases of cancer reported through the 'Long-term conditions' module, rather than the 'Cancer' module, have not necessarily been diagnosed by a doctor or nurse. These respondents are identified by their conditions status of 4: Not known or not ever told, but condition current and long-term. In particular, self-diagnosed skin cancer may be subject to misreporting.
    • Because this is a household-based survey, people with cancer who are residents in hospitals, nursing or convalescent homes or similar accommodation were outside the scope of this survey. The exclusion of these groups is expected to have a greater effect on the survey results for cancer than for most other conditions.

Comparability with 2014-15

Cancer data are considered directly comparable between the 2014-15 and 2017-18 NHS.

More information regarding comparisons between 2014-15 NHS and previous cycles is available in the National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4363.0).