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Cancer is a diverse group of several hundred diseases in which some of the body’s cells become abnormal and begin to multiply out of control. The abnormal cells can invade and damage the tissue around them, and spread to other parts of the body, causing further damage and eventually death.
All cancers combined incorporates ICD-10 cancer codes C00–C97 (Malignant neoplasms of specific sites), D45 (Polycythaemia), D46 (Myelodysplastic syndromes), and D47.1, D47.3, D47.4 and D47.5 (Myeloproliferative diseases); but excludes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin. BCC and SCC, the most common skin cancers, are not notifiable diseases in Australia and are not reported in the Australian Cancer Database.
In 2012, there were 122,093 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia (68,288 males and 53,805 females).a In 2016, it is estimated that 130,466 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (72,048 males and 58,418 females).b
In 2012, the age-standardised incidence rate was 485 cases per 100,000 persons (572 for males and 412 for females).d In 2016, it is estimated that the age-standardised incidence rate will be 467 cases per 100,000 persons (539 for males and 407 for females).
In 2016, it is estimated that the risk of an individual being diagnosed with cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 2 (1 in 2 males and 1 in 3 females).
In 2016, it is expected the incidence of cancer will generally increase with age (see figure below).
Source: AIHW analysis of the Australian Cancer Database, (see source table 1).
In 2013, there were 44,108 deaths from cancer in Australia (24,972 males and 19,136 females). In 2016, it is estimated that this will increase to 46,880 deaths (26,566 males and 20,314 females).c
In 2013, the age-standardised mortality rate was 166 deaths per 100,000 persons (209 for males and 133 for females).d In 2016, it is estimated that the age-standardised mortality rate will be 162 deaths per 100,000 persons (203 for males and 130 for females).
In 2016, it is estimated that the risk of an individual dying from cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 5 (1 in 4 for males and 1 in 6 for females).
The number of new cases of cancer diagnosed increased from 47,445 in 1982 to 122,093 in 2012.
Over the same period, the age-standardised incidence rate increased from 383 cases per 100,000 persons in 1982 to 485 cases per 100,000 persons in 2012.
The number of deaths from cancer increased from 17,032 in 1968 to 44,108 in 2013.
Over the same period, the age-standardised mortality rate decreased from 199 deaths per 100,000 persons in 1968 to 166 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2013.
Note: Incidence rates available for 1982–2012, and mortality rates available for 1968–2013.
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1
In 2008–2012 in Australia, individuals diagnosed with cancer had a 67% chance of surviving for 5 years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population.
Between 1983–1987 and 2008–2012, 5-year relative survival from cancer improved from 47% to 67%.
Source: AIHW analysis of the Australian Cancer Database, (see source table 2).
The prevalence for 1, 5 and 29 years given below are the number of people living with cancer at the end of 2010 who had been diagnosed in the preceding 1, 5 and 29 years respectively.
At the end of 2010, there were 100,293 people living who had been diagnosed with cancer that year.
At the end of 2010, there were 384,593 people living who had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 5 years (from 2006 to 2010).
At the end of 2010, there were 905,987 people living who had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 29 years (from 1982 to 2010).
More information on all cancer from Cancer Australia
Cancer, like other health conditions, is classified by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD-10). This is a statistical classification, published by the World Health Organization, in which each morbid condition is assigned a unique code according to established criteria.
Future estimates for incidence and mortality are a mathematical extrapolation of past trends. They assume that the most recent trends will continue into the future, and are intended to illustrate future changes that might reasonably be expected to occur if the stated assumptions continue to apply over the estimated period. Actual future cancer incidence and mortality rates may vary from these estimations for a variety of factors. New screening programs may increase the detection of new cancer cases; new vaccination programs may decrease the risk of developing cancer; and improvements in treatment options may decrease mortality rates.
Due to the rounding of these estimates, male and female incidence and mortality may not sum to person incidence and mortality.
Cancer incidence indicates the number of new cancers diagnosed during a specified time period (usually one year).
Cancer mortality refers to the number of deaths occurring during a specified time period (usually one year) for which the underlying cause of death is cancer.
Prevalence of cancer refers to the number of people alive with a prior diagnosis of cancer at a given time. It is distinct from incidence (see above). The longest period for which it is possible to calculate prevalence using the available national data (from 1982 to 2010) is currently 29 years. This span is used to estimate the 'total' prevalence of cancer at the end of 2010, noting that people diagnosed with cancer before 1982 are not included.