Cancer cases up but deaths are down

Richard Laycock 3 February 2017 NEWS

Doctor and patient having a conversation

Death rates have been on a steady decline since the 1980s.

An estimated 134,000 Australians will be diagnosed with new cases of cancers in 2017, according to a new report from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Cancer in Australia 2017. This figure equates to an average of 367 diagnoses each day, which is almost three times as high as it was in 1982.

While these figures are alarming and cancer is a major health issue, the rate at which cancer is killing Australians is declining.

"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," said AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey

Incidence rates have also decreased in recent years.

"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," Harvey said.

It is estimated that prostate cancer will be the most common cancer in men in 2017, with men roughly 1.8 times more likely to develop prostate cancer than the estimated second most commonly diagnosed cancer: colorectal. In women, breast cancer is projected to be the most common diagnosis, more than 2.3 times more frequent than the estimated second most commonly diagnosed cancer, which again is colorectal cancer.

It is estimated that 47,753 people will die from cancer in Australia in 2017, an average of 131 per day. Men are projected to account for 57% of these deaths and the risk of a male dying of cancer by the age of 85 is one in four. Women are projected to make up 43% of all cancer deaths and have a projected risk of dying of cancer by the age of 85 is one in six.

The report, which looked at deaths from cancer between 2010 and 2014, found that those living in very remote areas were 1.2 times more likely to die from cancer than those living in major cities. It also found that people in the lowest socioeconomic group were 1.3 times more likely to die from cancer when compared with those in the highest.

The Northern Territory had the highest number of deaths from cancer between 2010 and 2014, with 218 deaths per 100,000 people. The ACT had the lowest with 148 deaths per 100,000.

The AIHW report projected that found that 1,839 Australians will die from melanoma in 2017. However, a recent investigation by the Leukaemia Foundation found that Australians dying from blood cancer is now double that of those losing their lives to melanoma skin cancer.

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