What is the ACD?

The Australian Cancer Database (ACD) is a data collection of all cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia since 1982, excluding basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the skin. It also contains data on some non-malignant neoplasms as follows:

  • all cases of carcinoma in situ of the breast diagnosed in Australia since 2002
  • all cases of melanoma in situ of the skin diagnosed in Australia since 2004
  • all cases of carcinoma in situ of the cervix diagnosed in Victoria and Queensland since 2001
  • all cases of benign and uncertain-behaviour neoplasms of the central nervous system diagnosed in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia since 2003.

The following exclusions apply to the ACD.

  • Only the first occurrence of a neoplasm is included. Recurrences and metastases are not included.
  • Data on non-melanoma skin cancers, besides BCC and SCC, are complete from 2001 only.
  • Data on myelodysplastic syndromes and most 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.

Variables in the Australian Cancer Database

Person-level variables

Tumour-level variables

Person identification number

Tumour identification number


Date of diagnosis

First given name

Date of diagnosis accuracy indicator

Second given name

Age at diagnosis

Third given name

Age group at diagnosis

Other names

ICD-O-3 topography code1


ICD-O-3 histology code1

Date of birth

ICD-O-3 behaviour code1

Date of birth accuracy indicator

ICD-10 disease code2

Indigenous status

Most valid basis of diagnosis

Country of birth

Breslow thickness (melanoma only)

Date of death

Tumour size (breast cancer only)

Age at death

Stage at diagnosis3

Age group at death

State/territory at diagnosis

Cause of death

Postcode at diagnosis

Last known postcode

SA2 (2011 ASGS) at diagnosis

Last known address

SA2 (2016 ASGS) at diagnosis


SA1 (2011 ASGS) at diagnosis


SA1 (2016 ASGS) at diagnosis


Address at diagnosis

1. International Classification of Diseases for Oncology, 3rd edition.

2. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision.

3. Stage at diagnosis is only available for the five most common cancers diagnosed in 2011: prostate cancer, female breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and melanoma of the skin.

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 data visualisations. 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.