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While cancer in adolescents and young adults remains a concern, outcomes for young people are largely positive, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Cancer in adolescents and young adults in Australia, is the first to present a national, comprehensive picture of cancer in young people aged 15–29.

Cancer in adolescents and young adults accounted for 1.7% of all cancer cases diagnosed in Australia, with melanoma the most common cancer diagnosed in this age group.

‘Almost 8,800 new cases of cancer (excluding basal and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin) were diagnosed in people aged 15–29 between 2003 and 2007,’ said AIHW spokesperson Chris Sturrock.

‘The good news is that the death rate from cancer in those aged 15–29 decreased by almost 2% per year between 1983 and 2007,’ Ms Sturrock said.

There were just over 1,000 cancer deaths in adolescents and young adults between 2003 and 2007—making up 9% of all deaths in this age group, with the most common cause of cancer death being brain cancer.

‘Survival for young people with cancer is also quite high and has improved,’ Ms Sturrock said.

In the period 2004–2010, adolescents and young adults with cancer, compared with those in the general population, were 88% as likely to be alive five years after diagnosis.

However, cancer outcomes for adolescents and young adults did vary for different population groups.

‘In the period 2003–2007, those living outside Major cities were more likely to be diagnosed with and to die from cancer than their counterparts in Major cities,’ Ms Sturrock said.

In the period 2004–2010, survival from all cancers combined was higher for 15–29-year-olds living in areas of the highest socioeconomic status than for those in the lowest.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 1 December 2011

Further information: Ms Chris Sturrock, AIHW, (02) 6244 1118, mob. 0407 915 851

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Cancer in adolescents and young adults in Australia