The age-standardised cancer mortality rate in the ACT was 163 per 100,000 people, compared with 177 nationally. Photo: Jim Rice
The ACT has the best cancer survival rate in Australia and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of patients beating the disease, a new report shows.
A record number of Australians are expected to have been diagnosed with cancer by the end of 2012 but the chances of patients surviving more than five years after the disease has been detected has never been better.
Between 1991 and 2010, the five-year mortality rate from an all cancers in Australia dropped from 210 to 174 per 100,000 people, according to statistics published on Tuesday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. In the ACT, the age-standardised cancer mortality rate was 163 per 100,000 people, compared with a national rate of 177 per 100,000 and 215 per 100,000 in the lowest-performing Northern Territory.
As well as having the highest mortality rate, the NT had the lowest cancer diagnosis rate at 442 new cases per 100,000 people.
The ACT had the second-lowest diagnosis rate: 461 cases per 100,000 people.
The report, Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2012 found that the national five-year survival rate from all cancers increased from 47 per
cent in the early to mid 1980s to 66 per cent by the second half of the last decade.
''These gains can be explained by better diagnostic methods, earlier detection and improvements in treatment,'' the report said.
''The cancers that had the largest absolute increase in survival were prostate cancer, kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, bowel cancer, breast cancer in females and myeloma, where five-year survival increased by 17 percentage points or more.
''Other cancers that showed a greater proportional increase in survival included liver cancer, cancer of unknown primary site, and acute myeloid leukaemia.''
There were only small gains in survival from mesothelioma, brain, pancreatic and lung cancers.
About 66,000 Australians were diagnosed with cancer in 1991 and this was expected to rise to 121,000 this year.
Institute of Health and Welfare spokeswoman Lisa McGlynn said survival rates were lower among poorer and indigenous people and in rural areas: ''If you're socio-economically disadvantaged then you will have higher cancer incidence and mortality rates. The same for rural areas … and indigenous.''
Ms McGlynn said the increased survival rates demonstrated the importance of people in identified target groups participating in recommended breast, cervical and bowel screening programs.
In 2010, cancer accounted for about 30 per cent of deaths in Australia, making it the second most common cause of death, behind heart disease.
The most common cancers in Australia are prostate, bowel, melanoma of the skin and lung.
Another report, released on Monday, showed that in November, Australia had the highest monthly deceased organ donation outcome since national records began.
Forty-five donors had provided transplants for 141 Australians.