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 and deaths

In 2014, there were 127,887 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia (69,945 males and 57,942 females). In 2018, it is estimated that 138,321 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (74,644 males and 63,676 females). In 2018, it is estimated that the risk of an individual being diagnosed with cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 2 for both males and females.

In 2016, there were 45,782 deaths from cancer in Australia (25,910 males and 19,872 females). In 2018, it is estimated that this will increase to 48,586 deaths (27,552 males and 21,034 females). In 2018, it is estimated that 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).

In 2014, the age–standardised incidence rate was 484 new cases per 100,000 persons (555 for males and 424 for females). In 2018, it is estimated that the age–standardised incidence rate will be 472 cases per 100,000 persons (529 for males and 424 for females). The incidence rate of all cancers combined is expected to increase with age for both males and females.

In 2016, the age–standardised mortality rate was 159 deaths per 100,000 persons (198 for males and 128 for females). In 2018, it is estimated that the age–standardised mortality rate will be 159 deaths per 100,000 persons (197 for males and 128 for females). The mortality rate for all cancers combined is expected to increase with age for both males and females.

The number of new cases of cancer diagnosed increased from 47,443 (25,420 males and 22,023 females) in 1982 to 127,887 in 2014. 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 484 cases per 100,000 persons in 2014.

The number of deaths from cancer increased from 17,035 (9,546 males and 7,489 females) in 1968 to 45,782 in 2016. 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 159 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2016. 

Survival

In 2010–2014, individuals diagnosed with cancer had a 69% chance (68% for males and 69% for females) of surviving for 5 years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population. Between 1985–1989 and 2010–2014, 5–year relative survival from cancer improved from 49% to 69%.

Survivorship population 

At the end of 2013, there were 107,645 people living who had been diagnosed with cancer that year, 421,124 people living who had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 5 years (from 2009 to 2013) and 1,038,354 people living who had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 32 years (from 1982 to 2013).