International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD–10)

Cancer is classified by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD–10). This is a statistical classification, published by the World Health Organization, in which each morbid condition is assigned a unique code according to established criteria.


Future estimations for incidence and mortality are a mathematical extrapolation of past trends. They assume that the most recent trends will continue into the future, and are intended to illustrate future changes that might reasonably be expected to occur if the stated assumptions continue to apply over the estimated period. Actual future cancer incidence and mortality rates may vary from these estimations. For instance, new screening programs may increase the detection of new cancer cases; new vaccination programs may decrease the risk of developing cancer; and improvements in treatment options may decrease mortality rates.


Cancer incidence indicates the number of new cancers diagnosed during a specified time period (usually one year).

The 2014 national incidence counts include estimates for NSW because the actual data were not available.

The 2018 estimates are based on 2004–2013 incidence data. Due to rounding of these estimates, male and female incidence may not sum to person incidence.


Cancer mortality refers to the number of deaths occurring during a specified time period (usually one year) for which the underlying cause of death is cancer.

The 2018 estimates are based on mortality data up to 2013. Joinpoint analysis was used on the longest time series of age–standardised rates available to determine the starting year of the most recent trend. 

The AIHW National Mortality Database (NMD) contains information provided by the registries of births, deaths and marriages and the National Coronial Information System (coded by the ABS), for deaths from 1964 to 2016. Registration of deaths is the responsibility of each state and territory’s registry of births, deaths and marriages. These data are then collated and coded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and maintained at the AIHW in the National Mortality Database.

In the NMD, both the year in which death occurred and the year in which it was registered are provided. For the purposes of this report, actual mortality data are based on the year the death occurred, except for the most recent year (2016), for which the number of people whose death was registered is used. Previous investigation has shown that the year of death and its registration coincide for the most part. However, in some instances, deaths at the end of each calendar year may not be registered until the following year. Thus, year-of-death information for the latest available year is generally an underestimate of the actual number of deaths that occurred in that year.

Deaths registered in 2013 and earlier are based on the final version of cause of death data; deaths registered in 2014 are based on the revised version; deaths registered in 2015 and 2016 are based on the preliminary version. Revised and preliminary versions are subject to further revision by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The data quality statements underpinning the AIHW NMD can be found on the following ABS internet pages:

For more information on the AIHW NMD and deaths data, see Deaths data


Relative surivival was calculated using the period method, using the period 2010–2014. Note that this period does not contain incidence data for 2013–2014 for NSW. Data from the National Death Index (NDI) on deaths (from any cause) that occurred up to 31 December 2014 were used to determine which people with cancer had died and when this occurred.

Prevalence (survivorship population)

Prevalence of cancer refers to the number of people alive with a prior diagnosis of cancer at a given time. It is distinct from incidence, which is the number of new cancers diagnosed within a given period of time. The longest period for which it is possible to calculate prevalence using the available national data (from 1982 to 2013) is currently 32 years so this is used to provide an estimate of the ‘total’ prevalence of cancer as at the end of 2013, noting that people diagnosed with cancer before 1982 are not included.

Age standardised rates

Incidence and mortality rates expressed per 100,000 population are age–standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.


Previous versions of files that have been updated or corrected are presented below.

  1. (17 Sep 2018) Minor correction to Ovarian cancer.