All cancers combined

Cancer is a diverse group of several hundred diseases in which some of the body’s cells become abnormal and begin to multiply out of control. The abnormal cells can invade and damage the tissue around them, and spread to other parts of the body, causing further damage and eventually death.

All cancers combined incorporates ICD–10 cancer codes C00–C97 (malignant neoplasms of specific sites), D45 (polycythaemia), D46 (myelodysplastic syndromes) and D47.1, D47.3–D47.5 (myeloproliferative diseases); but excludes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin. BCC and SCC, the most common skin cancers, are not notifiable diseases in Australia and are therefore not included in the Australian Cancer Database.

New cases of cancer

In 2013, there were 124,465 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia (68,936 males and 55,529 females). In 2017, it is estimated that 134,174 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (72,169 males and 62,005 females).

In 2013, the age–standardised incidence rate was 483 new cases per 100,000 persons (562 for males and 416 for females). In 2017, it is estimated that the age–standardised incidence rate will be 470 cases per 100,000 persons (526 for males and 423 for females). The incidence rate of all cancers combined will generally increase with age for both males and females.

In 2017, it is estimated that the risk of an individual being diagnosed with cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 2 (1 in 2 males and 1 in 2 females).

The number of new cases of cancer diagnosed increased from 47,440 (25,420 males and 22,020 females) in 1982 to 124,465 in 2013. Over the same period, the age–standardised incidence rate increased from 383 new cases per 100,000 persons (472 for males and 328 for females) in 1982 to 483 cases per 100,000 persons in 2013.

Estimated most common cancers diagnosed in 2017

Cancer type New cases 2017 % of all new cancers 2017
Breast 17,730 13.2
Breast (among females) 17,586 28.4
Colorectal (bowel) 16,682 12.4
Prostate (among males) 16,665 23.1
Melanoma 13,941 10.4
Lung 12,434 9.3

Deaths from cancer

In 2014, there were 44,171 deaths from cancer in Australia (24,718 males and 19,453 females). In 2017, it is estimated that this will increase to 47,753 deaths (27,076 males and 20,677 females).

In 2014, the age–standardised mortality rate was 162 deaths per 100,000 persons (200 for males and 132 for females). In 2017, it is estimated that the age–standardised mortality rate will be 161 deaths per 100,000 persons (200 for males and 129 for females). The mortality rate for all cancers combined will generally increase with age for both males and females. 

In 2017, the risk of an individual dying from cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 5 (1 in 4 males and 1 in 6 females).

The number of deaths from cancer increased from 17,032 (9,541 males and 7,491 females) in 1968 to 44,171 in 2014. Over the same period, the age–standardised mortality rate decreased from 199 deaths per 100,000 persons in 1968 (258 for males and 159 for females) to 162 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2014.

Estimated most common cancers deaths in 2017

Cancer type Number of deaths 2017 % of all cancer deaths 2017
Lung 9,021 18.9
Colorectal (bowel) 4,114 8.6
Prostate (among males) 3,452 12.7
Breast 3,114 6.5
Breast (among females) 3,087 14.9
Pancreatic 2,915 6.1

Estimated age-specific incidence and mortality rates for all cancers combined, by sex, 2017

This line chart presents the estimated age-specific incidence (solid line) and mortality (dashed line) rates of all cancers combined for males (blue), females (purple) and persons (green) in 2017. The age-specific incidence and mortality rates are shown on the primary (left) y-axis, with 5-year age groups from ages 0–4 to 85+ shown on the x-axis.

Source: AIHW [1].

Age-standardised incidence rates for all cancers combined 1982–2013 and age-standardised mortality rates for all cancers combined 1968–2014, by sex

This line chart presents the estimated age-standardised incidence (solid line) and mortality (dashed line) rates (per 100,000) of all cancers combined for males (blue), females (purple) and persons (green) over the period 1982–2013 for incidence and 1968–2014 for mortality. The age standardised incidence and mortality rates, expressed per 100,000 persons, are shown on the primary (left) y-axis. Years from 1968 to 2014 are presented on the x-axis.

Source: AIHW [1].

Survival from cancer

In 2009–2013, individuals diagnosed with cancer had a 68% chance (68% for males and 69% for females) of surviving for 5 years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population.

Between 1984–1988 and 2009–2013, 5-year relative survival from cancer improved from 48% to 68%.

5-year relative survival from all cancers combined, by sex, 1984–1988 to 2009–2013

This line chart presents 5-year relative survival at diagnosis for all cancers combined, by males, females and persons over the period from 1984–1988 to 2009–2013. The percentage of survival is presented on the y-axis.

Source: AIHW [13].

Survivorship population 

The survivorship population is measured using prevalence data. Prevalence refers to the number of people alive who have previously been diagnosed with cancer.

The prevalence for 1, 5 and 31 years given below are the number of people living with cancer at the end of 2012 who had been diagnosed in the preceding 1, 5 and 31 years respectively.

At the end of 2012, there were 106,340 people living who had been diagnosed with cancer that year, 410,530 people who had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 5 years (from 2008 to 2012) and 994,605 people living had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 31 years (from 1982 to 2012).

References

1. Australia Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books: All cancers combined. Canberra. [Accessed February 2017].

13. AIHW 2017. Cancer in Australia 2017. Cancer series no. 101. Cat. No. CAN 100. Canberra: AIHW.