World Cancer Day: Cancer remains the leading cause of premature death in Victoria

Thursday 4 February, 2016

Cancer remains the leading cause of premature death in Victoria

Cancer deaths in Victoria result in the premature loss of nearly 60,000 years of life each year, more than four times the loss compared with other major causes of death.

With World Cancer Day coming up this week (Thursday 4 February), Cancer Council Victoria is highlighting that cancer is still a leading cause of poor health, with much more still to be learnt, particularly about high-mortality and less-common cancers.

Despite drastic improvements in cancer survivorship thanks to improved treatment and screening over many years, cancer still accounts for around a third of all premature deaths in Victoria.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said although there has been ongoing investment in cancer research, resulting in an increased five-year survival rate from 48% in 1988 to 67% in 2013 for cancers overall, there are still cancers with survival rates below 10%.

"Although the upward trend in survival is incredibly encouraging, there are still many cancers with high mortality that we need to focus on," Mr Harper said.

"What we are seeing now is that survival rates vary drastically between cancer types. If we are to lift overall cancer survival rates, investment in dedicated research into ‘forgotten' cancers, like brain and pancreatic cancer needs to happen," he said.

Cancers with the lowest five-year survival rates in Victoria are liver (17%), lung (17%), cancer of an unknown primary (12%), mesothelioma (7%) and pancreas (7%).

Each year, over 30,500 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer, and 11,000 die from the disease.