Cancer Statistics Australia

Cancer incidence and mortality in Australia

  • 1 in 3 Australian men and 1 in 4 Australian women will be diagnosed by cancer before the age of 75. Cancer does not discriminate, it affects people of all ages.
  • Most people in Australia will touched by cancer at some stage in their lives, either personally or through family and friends. Annually more than 123,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Australia. And as our population ages, cancer is becoming more prevalent.
  • Most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia is prostate cancer, followed by colorectal cancer, breast cancer, melanoma of the skin and lung cancer. These cancers are estimated to account for about 60% of all cancers diagnosed.
  • The most common cancers diagnosed by life stage are:
    • leukaemia for people aged 0–24
    • breast cancer for women and melanoma for men aged 25–49
    • prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women aged 50–64
    • colorectal cancer for people aged 65 and over.
  • The highest incidence rates of all cancers combined are in Tasmania and Queensland and the lowest incidence rates are in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
  • Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Australia with an estimated 45,700 people passing away each year.
  • The types of cancer most commonly causing death are lung, prostate and colorectal cancers in males and lung, breast and colorectal in women.
  • The survival rate for many types of cancer has increased by more than 20 per cent in the past three decades due to treatment improvements and new interventions brought about by research. Unfortunately this increase is not consistent across all cancers.
  • For males, 5-year survival was highest for those diagnosed with testicular cancer, lip cancer and prostate cancer. For females, 5-year survival rate was highest for those diagnosed with thyroid cancer, lip cancer and melanoma of the skin.
  • Pancreatic cancer (males 6% and females 6%) and mesothelioma (males 5% and females 8%) accounted for the lowest survival in both males and females.

Cancer costs

  • In 2008–09, cancer and other neoplasms accounted for $4,526 million or 7% of total recurrent health spending.
  • The top six cancers in terms of estimated health system expenditure accounted for 42% of total health system expenditure on cancer. These were: prostate cancer (men), breast cancer (women) and for men and women colorectal cancer, non-melanoma skin cancer, leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer.
  • In 2006-2011 $1.77 billion in funding was provided for cancer research in Australia.  In contrast, in 2010-11 $5.5 billion was spent in total on health and medical research, which is 0.39% of the Australian GDP.
  • “If we can reduce cancer deaths in the next forty years by 20%, we could save $184 billion” (Access Economics report published 2003, Australian Society of Medical Research).
cancer research


Cancer in Australia: an overview 2014 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Health system expenditure on cancer and other neoplasms in Australia: 2008–09 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2013.

Cancer Research in Australia: an overview of funding initiatives to support cancer research capacity in Australia 2006 to 2011 Cancer Australia 2015