People & Ideas

May 12, 2017

Australians are better than everyone else at surviving cancer

While cancer remains one of our biggest killers, we've made significant progress in treating it in recent decades -- and we're doing better than anywhere else.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Some recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) points to significant progress over the last 20 years in the treatment of cancer in Australia -- and allows us to compare how we perform internationally in treating one of our most common killers.

Cancer is responsible for around three in 10 deaths in Australia and, according to the AIHW, will kill over 47,000 Australians this year. Lung cancer is the biggest killer for both men and women, followed by prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women, then colorectal cancer. But our prospects for surviving a cancer diagnosis have improved significantly since the 1980s; your chance of surviving five years after a cancer diagnosis in the mid-'80s was, on average, 48%. In the period 2009-13, it was 68%. And that figure increases to over 80% if you survive 12 months after diagnosis. 

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3 comments

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3 thoughts on “Australians are better than everyone else at surviving cancer

  1. AR

    Thank Great Gough for Medibank/care & Big Public Health in the Nanny State, eh BK?

  2. Geoff Russell

    Think about what happens to the 5 year survival figure if your improved diagnostic finds a cancer 12 months earlier, or finds a cancer that was never going to kill you anyway. The statistics are very hard to interpret.

  3. Billius Bongus

    I think you may want to check your data on the most common cancer in Victoria. I doubt it is pancreatic cancer.

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