Cancer Council Australia

Annual Review 2015-2016

Cancer in Australia

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How many Australians get cancer?

At current rates, 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated 127,000 new cases of cancer would be diagnosed in Australia in 2015. By 2020, the number of new cases in Australia each year is expected to rise to 150,000. These numbers do not include non-melanoma skin cancers.*

More than half (55%) of new cancers diagnosed are in males and nearly 6 in 10 (58%) new cancer cases diagnosed are in people aged 65 years and over.

Most common cancers

According to estimates from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the most commonly diagnosed cancers in 2015 were:

  • prostate cancer (17,250 cases)
  • bowel cancer (17,070)
  • breast cancer (15,740)
  • melanoma (12,960)
  • lung cancer (11,880)

These five cancers accounted for over 60% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia.

Cancer deaths

Cancer is the leading cause of fatal disease burden in Australia, a measure that refers to years of life lost. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Australia, responsible for about 3 in every 10 deaths overall.

In 2013 (the latest data available) there were 44,108 deaths from cancer.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women, causing an estimated 8,790 deaths in 2015. The next most common causes of cancer death were bowel (4,120 deaths), prostate (3,440), breast (3,065) and pancreatic (2,710) cancers.

Cancer survival

More than two-thirds of people diagnosed with cancer (66% of males and 68% of females) now survive more than five years after diagnosis.

Over the past 30 years, five-year relative survival for people diagnosed with cancer increased from 47 per cent to 67 per cent (for all cancers combined).

*Although the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer is not recorded by cancer registries, Medicare data indicates that more than 430,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers each year. A total of 512 people died from non-melanoma skin cancer in 2012.


This page was last updated on: Monday, August 8, 2016