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.