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Aboriginal Victorians Statistics


Background

This fact sheet has been written as a partnership between the Victorian Cancer Registry in Cancer Council Victoria and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (VACCHO). Together, Cancer Council and VACCHO are working within a framework of self-determination, such that the Aboriginal community leads the development and implementation of services and programs that are culturally safe to improve the cancer outcomes for Aboriginal people living in Victoria.

Throughout this fact sheet we use the term Aboriginal Victorians to include people of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. We acknowledge Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognise the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past, present and future.

In this report we detail cancer incidence, mortality and survival of Aboriginal Victorians. Cancer data has been displayed in five year periods to account for relatively low annual rates, particularly when data are being broken down into smaller units of measurement such as by age groups and cancer types. As a result of these relatively small numbers, random fluctuations are to be expected across time periods. Comparisons across time periods should be made with due consideration because of the effects of small numbers and it is unknown if changes across time are due to true changes or improved self-reporting.

How common is cancer in Aboriginal Victorians?

Over the five-year period 2016 to 2020, 1504 Aboriginal Victorians were diagnosed with cancer. Of these, there were 775 Aboriginal males and 729 Aboriginal females, representing 0.8% and 0.9% of total Victorian cancer diagnoses for males and females, respectively.

The median age at diagnosis of cancer in Aboriginal Victorians was 63 years in Aboriginal males and 61 in Aboriginal females.


Most common cancers diagnosed amoung Aboriginal Victorians

Figure 1 shows the age-specific cancer incidence rate per 100,000 for Aboriginal males and females.
Figure 2 shows the distributon of cancers across Aboriginal males and females for the period 2016 to 2020.

The most commonly reported cancer diagnosed among Aboriginal males between 2016 to 2020 was prostate cancer with an average yearly age-standardised incidence rate of 145 per 100,000 males. There were 156 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the past five years.

The most commonly reported cancer diagnosed among Aborginal females between 2016 to 2020 was breast cancer with an average yearly age-standardised incidence rate of 137 per 100,000 females. There were 171 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the past five years.


Figure 1: Age specific incidence rates for all cancers in Aboriginal Victorians, 2016-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Figure 2: Number of new cancer diagnoses for the top 10 cancers diagnosed in Aboriginal Victorians by sex, 2016-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Cancer mortality amoung Aboriginal Victorians

Figure 3 shows the age-specific cancer mortality rate for 100,000 for Aboriginal males and females over the five year period 2016 to 2020.
Figure 4 shows the distributon of cancer deaths for major tumour groups across Aboriginal males and females for the period 2016 to 2020.

There were 292 deaths among Aboriginal males and 269 among Aboriginal females between 2016 to 2020.

The cancer with the highest mortality rate among Aboriginal males between 2016 to 2020 was lung with an age-standardised mortality rate of 71 per 100,000 males. There were 78 deaths from lung cancer in the past five years.

The cancer with the highest mortality among Aboriginal females between 2016 to 2020 was lung with an age-standardised mortality rate of 62 per 100,000 females. There were 76 deaths from lung cancer in the past five years.


Figure 3: Age specific mortality rates for all cancers in Aboriginal Victorians, 2016-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Figure 4: Number of cancer deaths for the top 10 cancers diagnosed in Aboriginal Victorians by sex, 2016-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Five-year relative survival for Aboriginal Victorians

Figure 6 demonstrates that five-year relative survival has decreased for Aboriginal Victorians between 2011-2015 and 2016-2020 from 67% to 59%. The likelihood of an Aboriginal Victorian suviving at least five years after a cancer diagnosis (2016-2020) is 59%.


Figure 6: Trend in five year relative survival for Aboriginal Victorians between 2011-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2023)

Addressing the gaps for Aboriginal Victorians

VACCHO is working with Aboriginal Victorians who havea lived cancer experience, their families, health professionals, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, the Victorian Department of Health and the cancer care system to implement the Victorian Aboriginal Cancer Journey Strategy (launched in May 2023), aimed at improving cultural safety in the cancer care system to improve the Aboriginal cancer care outcomes.


This webpage was last updated in September 2023

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