Cancer is one of the greatest health burdens for the ACT population. Advances in prevention, early detection and treatment mean that more people are surviving and living longer with cancer.
There were 1,646 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the ACT in 2015, with more males (54%) diagnosed than females (46%). The age-standardised incidence rate for the ACT in 2015 was 428.7 cases per 100,000, lower than the national incidence rate in 2014 of 483.8 cases per 100,000.1
The median age at diagnosis was 67 years for males and 64 years for females.
Survival outcomes for all cancers combined has improved considerably over time. For the period 2003–2012, 5-year relative survival for all cancers combined was 70.9%. This was a significant improvement from 56.9% in 1983–1992. There was no difference in survival between males and females. Younger people had better survival than older people for all cancers combined. There were significant differences in survival between different age groups with those aged 0–44 having a 5-year relative survival of 86.0% compared with 78.2% for 45–64 year olds and 60.5% for those aged 65 and above.
The improved cancer survival over time reflects a combination of improved treatment and earlier diagnosis across many cancer types. Survival rates in the ACT are at least as high as those for Australia as a whole. Compared with younger persons, there is a substantial disadvantage in survival for persons affected by cancer over the age of 65 years. This is in part due to older persons not undergoing more complex cancer treatments because of the risk of complications. Improving outcomes in this group remains a major challenge in cancer care.
1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2017). Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books (Excel spreadsheet). https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/acim-books/contents/acim-books