410,530 Australians were diagnosed with cancer in the period between January 2008 and December 2012 and were still alive at the end of 2012. Prostate cancer had the highest five-year prevalence in this period (94,144 persons) followed by breast cancer (65,976), colorectal cancer (52,630) and melanoma (51,697).
Five-year prevalence rates were higher among males due to higher rates among males than females in older age groups (55 years and over). For example, 8.2% of men aged 65–74 had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous five years compared with 4.6% of females. Of these men, 52% had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The female rate was higher than the male rate among those aged 45–54, with 1.9% of women in this age group having been diagnosed with cancer in the previous five years compared with 1.3% of males. Of these women, 48% were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
For those parts of Australia where data were available, a lower proportion of Indigenous Australians (1.0%) were observed to have been diagnosed with a cancer in the previous five years when compared with non-Indigenous Australians (1.4%). The disparity in five-year prevalence rates varied by cancer type, however. Five-year prevalence rates for lung, head and neck (incl. lip), uterine, and cervical cancer were higher among Indigenous Australians, while corresponding prevalence rates for prostate and female breast cancer were higher among non-Indigenous Australians.
Remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage
Five-year prevalence rates for all cancers combined were similar across socioeconomic groups and remoteness areas, with the exception of Inner Regional areas which had the highest prevalence rates for both males and females.
There are some noticeable variations in five-year prevalence rate by cancer type however. For example, although overall prevalence numbers were relatively low for head and neck cancer, five-year prevalence rates were much higher in relative terms for males (0.09%) than females (0.03%), and were higher among males in the most disadvantaged than least disadvantaged areas. Notably the five-year prevalence rate was particularly high among males in the most disadvantaged areas.