In 2009, Cancer (C00-D48) was the underlying cause of 41,952 registered deaths in Australia. This accounted for 29.8% of all registered deaths. The ratio of male (23,688) to female (18,264) deaths in 2009 remained steady at 130 males per 100 females. The median age of persons dying from Malignant cancers (C00-C97) has continued to rise from 73.5 years in 2000 to 74.9 years in 2009. Deaths due to malignant cancers accounted for 40,988 deaths or 97.7% of all cancers in 2009.
Cancers of the digestive organs (C15-C26) accounted for 11,536 deaths. Of these, Colon cancer (C18) constituted the largest number of deaths (2,324). The median age at death for people dying of colon cancer was 75.3 years for males and 79.0 years for females, with the largest number of deaths occurring between 75 and 84 years of age for both males and females.
Pancreatic cancer (C25) was the second highest contributor to deaths from cancers of the digestive organs, accounting for 2,204 deaths. There was a small difference between the numbers of males (1,142) and females (1,062) with pancreatic cancer as the underlying cause of death. However, the median age of males dying of pancreatic cancer (72.7) was lower than for females (77.1) dying of the same cause.
There were 8,074 deaths attributed to Cancers of the respiratory system and chest (C30-C39), accounting for 19.7% of all malignant cancers. Lung cancer (C34) was the underlying cause of 7,781 (96.4%) deaths due to cancers of the respiratory system and chest. The male to female ratio of deaths with lung cancer as the underlying cause has dropped from 200 male deaths per 100 females in 2000 to 157 male deaths per 100 females in 2009. Since 2000 the number of female deaths from this cause has increased by 737 while the number of male deaths has increased by 175. Males whose underlying cause of death was lung cancer, had a marginally higher median age at death (73.4 years) than females (73.2 years) with the same underlying cause.
Prostate cancer (C61) was the underlying cause of 4.3% of all male deaths registered in 2009. Male deaths from this underlying cause have increased gradually from 2,663 in 2000 to 3,111 in 2009. The median age at death for prostate cancer has steadily increased from 79.0 years in 2000 to 81.3 years in 2009. The current median age at death for prostate cancer is close to the median age for all deaths (80.8 years).
In females, deaths due to Breast cancer (C50) have risen from 2,511 in 2000 to 2,772 in 2009. The female median age at death due to breast cancer was 68.0 years, 2.5 years lower than males (70.5 years) and 15.9 years lower than the median age for all female deaths (83.9 years).