New report reveals a Victorian is diagnosed with cancer every 15 minutes

World’s most up-to-date cancer snapshot released

New data released today has revealed that one Victorian is diagnosed with cancer every 15 minutes - or 95 new diagnoses each day.

The numbers of cancers diagnosed has increased by 3% annually mostly due to the growth and ageing of the Victorian population.

The data were published today by the Victorian Cancer Registry as part of its publication, Cancer in Victoria: Statistics and Trends 2017, which contains the world’s most up-to-date cancer incidence and mortality information.

The report revealed melanoma incidence rates are decreasing in all younger Victorians, with the rate of disease now only increasing in Victorians aged over 60 years. This trend is thought to be reflective of the impact of SunSmart campaigns and initiatives in improving sun behaviours and early detection since SunSmart started in the early 1980’s.

The report shows that the most common areas of the body diagnosed with melanoma, differs greatly between men and women reflecting different recreational sun exposure patterns. 30% of invasive melanomas diagnosed in women were on their lower limbs and 29% on their upper limbs, compared to men who had 36% of melanomas diagnosed on the trunk of their body and 19% diagnosed on their upper limbs.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper encouraged Victorians not to be complacent when it comes to being SunSmart.

“Most skin cancer can be prevented by using good sun protection, and it’s never too late to improve your sun protection habits, no matter if you are six months or 60 years old,” Mr Harper said.

2,993 Victorians were diagnosed with invasive melanoma in 2017, making it the fourth most common cancer, and accounting for 9% of all cancer diagnoses. Overall survival from melanoma has increased from 85% to 90% over the past 30 years.

Mr Harper said the data shows men have both a higher incidence and mortality rate for melanoma in Victoria.

“At 50 years of age, incidence rates are almost equal, but thereafter male rates increase more rapidly to twice those of females by 80 years old,” Mr Harper said.

“The good news is people are getting better about seeing their doctor quickly when they notice a spot that’s not quite right, and as a result we are seeing more melanomas diagnosed at an earlier stage in both men and women, improving outcomes and survival.”

Victorian Cancer Registry Director Helen Farrugia said that the report showed that that thicker melanoma lesions have poorer 5-year survival compared with thin lesions.

“For melanoma lesions that are diagnosed less than 1mm the survival rate is now 100%. However, survival drops to 58% for melanoma tumours that are diagnosed later at a thickness of greater than 4mm. This further reinforces the need to get to know your skin and go to the doctor straight away if you notice any new or changing spots.”

Ms Farrugia said although incidence of melanoma is lower for Aboriginal and migrant Victorians, melanoma is diagnosed later for these groups than for other Victorians.

Cancer in Victoria: Statistics and Trends 2017 also reveals:

  • The five most common cancers in Victoria are prostate, breast, bowel, melanoma, and lung, collectively accounting for 57% of all new cancers and 46% of all cancer deaths.
  • Cervix cancer rates declined rapidly following the introduction of the Pap screening program – now the majority of abnormalities are detected prior to progressing to an invasive cancer, and the cervix cancer rates are stable.
  • Overall cancer survival continues to improve across the state. The latest five-year cancer survival is 68%, a statistically significant increase from 66% in 2007-2011
  • Cancers with the lowest survival remain liver (21%), lung (19%), cancer of unknown primary (12%), pancreas (10%) and mesothelioma (6%) - of these, survival increased
  • significantly between 2007-2011 and 2012-2016 for cancers of the liver, lung and pancreas.
  • In 2017, cancer deaths in Victoria were responsible for the premature loss of nearly 60,000 years of life. This is more than four times the loss compared with other major causes of death.

Mr Harper said: “Sadly, last year we lost another 10,955 Victorians to cancer. We must continue to work on finding new and improved ways to detect, treat and prevent cancer, while continuing to support those affected.”

“With more Victorians being diagnosed with cancer each year, and people surviving longer after a cancer diagnosis, it is important that we are here to support them while they deal with the long-term effects of cancer and adjust to their ‘new normal’.”

Jenny Mikakos, Victorian Minister for Health, said:

“Cancer is an insidious disease that touches too many Victorians. While we’re pleased to see cancer survival rates improving, the latest data shows there’s a long way to go to get on top of the deadly disease.

 “Victoria has some of the best cancer survival rates in the world – and it’s testament to our proud track record of investing in world-class cancer prevention, treatment and research.

“But too many people are still dying from cancer. That’s why we have an ambitious plan to save more lives and invest in more research to one day find a cure – and we want to save 10,000 lives that would otherwise be lost to cancer in the next 10 years.

“The plan brings together a range of initiatives in cancer prevention, detection, treatment and research to give patients the very best chance of beating the disease.”

 

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The Victorian Cancer Registry is a population-based cancer registry run by Cancer Council Victoria and co-funded by the Victorian Government. It aims to provide comprehensive, accurate and timely information for cancer control. To read the publication visit www.cancervic.org.au/cancer-in-victoria

Cancer Council Victoria is a non-profit organisation and has been leading the fight against all cancers for 82 years. We focus on cancer research, patient support, cancer prevention and advocacy. Please visit www.cancervic.org.au for further information.