Cancer is a major cause of illness in Australia and has a substantial social and economic impact on individuals, families and the community.

Local information about cancer incidence – newly diagnosed cases of cancer – offers important context for local health care professionals.

Cancer incidence rates are provided for all cancers combined as well as breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, lung and melanoma of the skin. Cancers were selected based on their importance to public health care providers because they are the most commonly diagnosed, have modifiable risk factors or have a population-based screening program.

All rates are age-standardised, and are presented for the 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas and more than 300 smaller local areas across Australia. Data are available for the five-year period from 2009 to 2013, as at the time of creation, 2013 was the most recent year for which actual data was available nationally.

The data show that:

  • Nationally, the incidence of all cancers was 497 new cases per 100,000 people (age-standardised)
  • Across PHN areas, rates ranged from 456 (North Western Melbourne, Vic) to 546 new cases per 100,000 people (North Coast, NSW)
  • For cervical and lung cancers and melanoma of the skin, the PHN area with the highest incidence rate (age-standardised) was more than twice that of the PHN area with the lowest rate
  • There was even greater variation in incidence rates across the smaller local areas.