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What is the ACD?

The Australian Cancer Database (ACD) is a data collection of all primary, malignant cancers diagnosed in Australia since 1982.

The following exclusions apply to the ACD:

  • Tumours diagnosed as benign, of borderline malignancy or in situ are not included.
  • Only the first occurrence of a cancer is included. That is, recurrences and metastases are not included.
  • Basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) of the skin are not included because they are not notifiable diseases.
  • National data on non-melanoma skin cancers, besides BCC and SCC, are complete from 2001 only.
  • Data on myelodysplastic syndromes and some myeloproliferative cancers are complete from 2003 only.

Data items in the ACD

Standard data items in the ACD are listed in the table below. In addition, national data outside this scope may be requested for selected projects with the cooperation of cancer registries.

Australian Cancer Database agreed minimum data set
Person-level attributes Tumour-level attributes
Person identification number (assigned by the state/territory) State/territory of usual residence at diagnosis
Surname Tumour identification number (assigned by the state/territory)
First given name Date of diagnosis
Second given name Date of diagnosis accuracy indicator
Third given name Age at diagnosis
Sex ICD-O-3(a) topography code
Date of birth ICD-O-3(a) morphology code
Date of birth accuracy indicator ICD-10(b) disease code
Indigenous status Most valid basis of diagnosis
Country of birth Statistical local area at diagnosis
Date of death Postcode at diagnosis
Age at death Melanoma thickness (Breslow)
Cause of death Tumour size (breast cancer only)
  1. International Classification of Diseases for Oncology, 3rd edition.
  2. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision.

What is the ACD used for?

Data from the ACD are used to report on national cancer statistics such as incidence, trends, projections, survival and prevalence.

These statistics are released in AIHW publications and made available as dynamic data. The ACD is also used for external projects, data linkage and ad hoc data requests for a variety of stakeholders including the general public, journalists, universities, non-government organisations (e.g., cancer support groups, pharmaceutical or insurance companies) and government agencies.

Statistics from the ACD allow a better understanding of how cancer might be prevented, detected or treated, as well as a closer monitoring of outcomes and the impact of policies.

Where do the data come from? 

The ACD is compiled at the AIHW from cancer data provided by state and territory cancer registries through the Australasian Association of Cancer Registries. These population-based cancer registries receive information on cancer diagnoses from a variety of sources, such as:

  • hospitals
  • pathology laboratories
  • radiotherapy centres
  • registries of births, deaths and marriages.

Who owns the data in the ACD? 

While the AIHW acts as a custodian of state and territory registry data for the purposes of producing national cancer statistics, cancer registries retain ownership of their jurisdiction’s data at all times. Agreements between the AIHW and cancer registries specify conditions under which data are supplied and the analysis and publication of data at the jurisdictional level can be released.

Quality control measures 

Data collection and coding practices are standardised when state and territory data are compiled into a single, national database. This is done through the following quality control measures at the AIHW:

  • notifying and adjusting the data for variations in coding procedures;
  • identifying and eliminating potential errors in the data; and
  • undertaking a de-duplication of the ACD so that duplicate records of cases recorded in more than one registry are removed.

Accessing the ACD

The AIHW is able to make available a broad range of cancer statistics subject to a scientific and ethical review process. For information on requesting these data see requesting additional cancer and screening data.