Higher risk of cancer for men

The latest report on cancer from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that men have a higher risk of developing cancer than women. Cancer in Australia 1991-94 (With Projections to 1999), to be launched on Thursday by the Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge, shows 75,498 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Australia in 1994. Of these, 56% were in men and 44% in women. It is projected that there will be approximately 76,000 new cases in 1998.

Men are also more likely to die from cancer - 57% of the 33,444 deaths from cancer in 1994 were men, 43% were women. The number is projected to be around 36,000 in 1998.

The report is based on cancer registrations from the eight Australian cancer registries and national mortality data. It shows that the most common form of cancer in Australia is non-melanoma skin cancer. This cancer is not routinely collected by cancer registries, and is not included in the report.

Acting Head of the AIHW's Disease Registers Unit, Ms Anne-Marie Waters said that the most common registrable cancers for men are those of the prostate (30%), bowel (13%), lung (12%) and melanoma skin cancer (9%).

'The situation for prostate is interesting. Although prostate cancer registrations rose dramatically in the early 1990s, following the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, recently there's been a decline in the incidence rates, indicating a return to the underlying rate. This can partly be explained by a decline in the number of PSA tests, and the earlier than usual detection of cancers in some men when PSA testing was at its peak. In general, PSA testing is now only used for diagnostic purposes. Over the last decade death rates from prostate cancer have remained steady.'

'For women, the most common registrable cancers are those of the breast (30%), bowel (14%), melanoma skin cancer (9%) and lung (6%).

'Between 1983 and 1994 bowel cancer incidence rates rose in men (up by 10%) and lung cancer in women (up by 24%). In the same period rates fell for stomach cancer (by approximately 30%), lung cancer in men (by 18%), and cancer of the cervix (13%).'

'Cigarette smoking is still a cause for concern-it is estimated to have caused well over 9,000 new cases of cancer and almost 7,000 deaths in 1994.'

Cancer in Australia 1991-94 (With Projections to 1999) also shows that the risk of being diagnosed with cancer before the age of 75 is 1 in 3 for males and 1 in 4 for females and the vast majority of cancers are diagnosed after 65. While the risk of cancer remains relatively stable the numbers of new cases and deaths is projected to increase as the population grows and ages.

2 July 1998


Further information: Anne-Marie Waters, Disease Registers Unit, ph. 02 6244 1127 or 02 6290 1919 (ah).
For media copies of the report: Lena Searle, ph. 02 6244 1032.