Cancer refers to a diverse group of diseases in which abnormal cells develop and divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer can spread throughout the body causing further damage. In 2008, Cancer (C00-D48) was the underlying cause of death for 42,418 registered deaths in Australia. This accounted for 29% of all registered deaths. Cancer contributed to a total of 48,784 deaths as either an underlying or associated cause of death.
The standardised death rate for Cancer was 182.1 per 100,000 population in 2008, a decrease from 195.8 per 100,000 population in 1999. The standardised death rate for males in 2008 was 232.1 per 100,000, and 144.3 per 100,000 for females.
More males than females died of cancer with 129 male deaths per 100 female deaths for the 2008 reference year. The median age of persons dying from cancer in 2008 was 75.1 years for males, 75.9 years for females and 75.4 years for all cancer deaths. Potential life lost due to cancer deaths was 183,259 years for males and 150,460 years for females.
Prostate cancer (C61) was the underlying cause of 3,031 deaths registered in 2008, 4.1% of all male deaths registered. The median age at death for Prostate cancer was 81.0 years. This is close to the median age for all male deaths (77.9 years). Potential life lost from deaths due to Prostate cancer was 9,178 years. Breast cancer (C50) was the underlying cause of 2,774 female deaths registered in 2008, 3.9% of all female deaths registered. The median age at death for Breast cancer was 68.1 years for females, which is 15.8 years lower than the median age for all female deaths (83.9 years). Potential life lost from deaths due to Breast cancer was 33,928 years for females.
Seven of the top 20 leading underlying causes of death in 2008 were attributable to some form of malignant cancer. These seven causes accounted for 25,922 deaths or 18% of all registered deaths in 2008. See Chapter 3 Leading Causes of Death for further information.
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