Between January 2012 and December 2016, 456,978 Australians were diagnosed with cancer and were still alive at the end of 2016. Prostate cancer had the highest five-year prevalence in this period (88,778 males) followed by female breast cancer (76,639 females), melanoma of the skin (60,356 persons), and colorectal cancer (54,911 persons).
Five-year prevalence rates were higher among males due to higher incidence of cancer among males than females in older age groups (55 years and over). For example, for people who have received a cancer diagnosis in the years 2012-2016 (653,238 persons), 31% were males aged 65–74 years compared with a corresponding 24% of females. Of these men aged 65–74 years, 35% had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The female prevalence rate was higher than the corresponding male rate among those aged 45–54 years, totalling over 56% of the persons diagnosed with cancer for that age bracket. Of these women aged 45–54, 43% were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
For those parts of Australia where data were available, 1.6% of all cancer cases diagnosed for this period affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons.3 The disparity in five-year prevalence rates varied by cancer type, however. Five-year prevalence rates for cancers of the lung, liver, head and neck (including lip), oesophagus, uterus, and cervix, pancreas, and unknown primary site were higher among Indigenous Australians, while corresponding prevalence rates for cancers of the bladder, colon, colorectal, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovary, prostate and female breast were higher among non-Indigenous Australians.
Remoteness and Socioeconomic Status (SES)
Five-year prevalence rates for all cancers combined were similar across areas classified by socioeconomic status and remoteness, with the exception of Remote and Very Remote areas which had the lowest prevalence rates for both males and females, and SES 5 areas with which had higher prevalence rates.
There are some noticeable variations in five-year prevalence rate by cancer type. For example, although overall prevalence numbers were relatively low for head and neck cancer (including lip), five-year prevalence rates were much higher for males than females amongst all SES quintiles and Remoteness areas, and were higher among males in the lowest SES areas (SES 1, 111.6 males per 100,000 persons) than among those in the highest SES areas (SES 5, 74.9 males per 100,000 persons).