More cancer cases diagnosed, but overall rates falling and survival rates improving

The latest cancer report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that while cancer is a major cause of ill health in Australia, and more cases are being diagnosed, death rates have continued to fall since the 1980s, and incidence rates have also decreased in recent years.

The report, Cancer in Australia 2017, estimates that over 134,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia in 2017—an average of 367 diagnoses each day and 2.8 times as high as in 1982.

'The rate of new cancer cases rose from 383 per 100,000 people in 1982 to a peak of 504 per 100,000 in 2008, before falling to an expected rate of 470 per 100,000 people in 2017,' said AIHW spokesperson Mr Justin Harvey.

This decrease has mostly been seen in males, and is largely due to a decline in the incidence rate of prostate cancer—the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males.

'Cancer continues to be more common in males than females overall. In 2017, it is expected that more than half (54%) of all diagnosed cases will be for males,' Mr Harvey said.

However, breast cancer in females is expected to be the most common type of cancer diagnosed in 2017.

It is estimated that around 47,800 people will die from cancer in 2017, an average of 131 deaths each day—though death rates from cancer have fallen over time, and survival is improving.

'The death rate from all cancers has fallen from 209 deaths per 100,000 people in 1982 to an estimated 161 per 100,000 in 2017,' Mr Harvey said.

'And survival rates have improved substantially, with five-year survival increasing from 48% in 1984–1988 to 68% in 2009–2013.'

Survival varied by cancer type, with the largest survival improvements seen in prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney cancer and multiple myeloma. Pancreatic cancer and lung cancer showed only small improvements, while bladder cancer and cancer of the larynx had a decrease in survival rates.

Lung cancer is expected to be the leading cause of cancer death in 2017, followed by bowel cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer in females and pancreatic cancer.

The report notes that, according to World Health Organization comparisons, people living in Australia generally had better cancer survival than those living in other countries and regions.


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