Victorian cancer burden to jump 50%

Friday 11 October, 2013

Report reveals half of all cancer deaths in Victoria are premature

More than 29,000 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer last year and experts predict that figure will rise by 53% over the next 15 years.

Cancer in Victoria: Statistics & Trends 2012, released today, predicts that by 2027 more than 44,000 new cases of cancer will be recorded in Victoria each year. In the same period cancer deaths will increase to more than 13,000.

Last year, 10,780 Victorians died from cancer. According to the report 47% of cancer deaths contributed to the premature loss of 60,000 years of life*.

The rise in the number of new cancer cases and deaths is largely due to a growing and ageing population. After taking such demographic changes into account the report calculates that each year the rate of incidence among Victorians rises 0.8%, while the rate of mortality drops by 1.2%.

Director of the Victorian Cancer Registry Helen Farrugia said although prostate cancer incidence rates had continued to decline from 2009 it was still the most common new cancer for Victorian men.

Almost 4,800 new cases of prostate cancer were recorded last year. For women, breast cancer remains the most common.

"The five most common cancers among all Victorians remain prostate, bowel, breast, lung and melanoma. These account for almost 60% of all new cancers in the state, and half of all cancer deaths," Ms Farrugia said.

"Among the less common cancers we are seeing rapidly rising trends in liver cancer for both sexes, and in thyroid cancer for women."

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said at least one in three Victorians would develop cancer by the age of 75 but there were steps everyone could take to reduce their risk.

"There is so much more that we could all be doing to reduce the state's growing cancer burden," Mr Harper said.

"We can prevent one in three cancers from ever happening, and that's why it's so important to keep educating Victorians about the simple steps that they can take to reduce their risks."

Mr Harper said it was important to acknowledge the enormous in-roads that had been made in cancer survival rates with 66% of all patients now surviving five years after diagnosis.

"Increasing rates of survival mean that we must keep adapting and expanding the ways that we support people affected by cancer after and beyond their initial diagnosis," he said.

For the first time, the Cancer in Victoria report includes cancer statistics for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Victorians. On average, there are over 90 new diagnoses of cancer recorded among these communities each year, and 40 deaths.

* A death is considered premature if it occurs earlier than 75 years of age. Years of potential life lost are counted as those that fall between the age at time of death and 75 years.