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The number of new cancer cases diagnosed in Australia each year passed the 100,000 mark for the first time in 2005 and the number of new cases in 2008 is estimated to be over 108,000, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

'Cancer already has a major impact on the health system and this looks set to continue. The number of cancer-related hospital admissions is projected to increase by over 23,000 per year in the short term, and this doesn't include cancer-related sessions in the outpatient setting,' said Ms Christine Sturrock of the Institute's Health Registers and Cancer Monitoring Unit.

According to the report, Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2008, new cancer cases are projected to increase by over 3,000 cases per year.

It is estimated that there will be over 42,000 deaths from cancer in 2008 and that this number will increase by over 800 deaths per year.

'Australia's ageing population is driving an increase in the number of cancer diagnoses, hospital encounters and cancer deaths,' Ms Sturrock said.

'Although the actual number of cancer deaths has increased, there has also been a significant increase in cancer survival over the last 20 years - more people are living longer after being diagnosed,' she said.

The most common cancer in males is prostate cancer, and in females it is breast cancer.

The second most common cancer in both men and women is bowel cancer.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program monitoring report 2008 was also released today.

The first phase of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, aimed at decreasing the incidence and mortality of bowel cancer, provided test kits to just under 1 million Australians aged 55 and 65 years between August 2006 and June 2008.

These tests detect blood in the faeces, which may indicate cancer.

About 43% of people provided with kits took advantage of the free test.

Approximately 8% of people taking the test had blood detected and of these, an estimated 5% were found to have bowel cancer. A further 12% had pre-cancerous polyps.

Both reports are available on the AIHW website at www.aihw.gov.au/publications

Friday 19 December 2008

Further information: Ms Christine Sturrock, tel. 02 6244 1118, mob. 0418 271 395.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.

Availability: Check the AIHW Publications area for the availability of Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2008 and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program monitoring report 2008 report.