The major source of cancer mortality data in Australia is the National Mortality Database (NMD). The NMD is compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) using data from the state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the National Coronial Information System, coded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Cases vs rates
Cancer mortality data can be presented as absolute numbers of deaths or as rates per 100,000 people. Mortality rates are often age-standardised to enable comparisons across different populations that may have different age profiles, as the likelihood of death from cancer generally increases with age.5 Australian mortality data are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001 and are expressed per 100,000 population.
- number of deaths: in 2014–2018, 875 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people died from lung cancer
- age-standardised mortality rate: in 2014–2018, the age-standardised mortality rate for lung cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 56.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
Age-specific rates are used to compare cancer mortality in specific age groups. For example:1
- the mortality rate for lung cancer is over three times higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 55–64 years compared with women in the same age group (24.9 per 100,000 men compared with 7.5 per 100,000 women).
Cancer mortality data are made available by the AIHW for individual cancer types and cancer groupings using ICD-10 categories.7 Unlike cancer incidence data, cancer mortality data include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin.
All Australian states and territories have legislation that makes cancer a notifiable disease. Various designated bodies, i.e., institutions such as hospitals, pathology laboratories and registries of births, deaths and marriages, are required to report cancer cases and deaths to their jurisdictional cancer registries.
Mortality data up to 2014 are based on the year of occurrence of the death, and data for 2015 are based on the year of registration of the death. The reason for using death registrations rather than occurrence of death for 2015 was to gain the best estimates in advance of all deaths being counted at the time of data extraction.
Deaths registered in 2015 and earlier are based on the final version of cause of death classification, whereas deaths registered in 2016 are based on the revised version and deaths registered in 2017 and 2018 are based on preliminary versions. Revised and preliminary versions are subject to further revisions by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Reliable national data on cancer mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not available nationally. All state and territory cancer registries collect information on Indigenous status; however, in some jurisdictions the consistency of Indigenous status data differs and have not been included in national mortality analyses. Information on Indigenous status is considered to be sufficiently consistent for inclusion of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Data for these five jurisdictions therefore are used in this report to indicate mortality from cancer in Australia.1
Australian mortality data are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001 and are expressed per 100,000 population.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification in national cancer data
Optimal care pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework