Lung cancer in Australia: an overview provides comprehensive national statistics on lung cancer using a range of data sources, presenting the latest data and trends over time. Differences by geographical area, socioeconomic status, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, country of birth and international comparisons are also discussed.
The incidence rate of lung cancer has fallen in males but risen in females
In 2007 in Australia, lung cancer was the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in both males and females (excluding basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin). A total of 5,948 lung cancers were diagnosed in males and 3,755 in females. The occurrence of lung cancer was strongly related to age, with 84% of new lung cancers in males and 80% in females diagnosed in those aged 60 and over.
Between 1982 and 2007 the number of new lung cancers increased markedly in both sexes. However, when the age structure and size of the population are taken into account, the incidence rate of lung cancer decreased in males by 32% but increased in females by 72%. The different pattern of incidence rates in males and females reflect historical differences in smoking behaviour.
Lung cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer
A total of 4,715 males and 2,911 females died from lung cancer in 2007. This makes it the leading cause of cancer deaths for both sexes, accounting for 21% of all cancer deaths in males and 17% in females. Furthermore, lung cancer ranked second for males and fourth for females when considering all causes of death.
The age-standardised mortality rate from lung cancer for males decreased by 41% between 1982 and 2007, while the mortality rate for females increased by 56%.
Lung cancer survival has improved but still remains low
The prognosis for those diagnosed with lung cancer is poor and has improved only a little over the previous 26 years. That is, the 5-year relative survival was 11% for males and 15% for females in 2000–2007, which compares with 8% for males and 10% for females in 1982–1987.
The number of hospitalisations for lung cancer has increased
In the 2008–09 financial year, lung cancer was responsible for one in 19 cancer-related hospitalisations and one in 187 hospitalisations for all causes in Australia. More than three- quarters (77%) of hospitalisations for lung cancer were for patients aged 60 years and over. The number of hospitalisations for lung cancer increased by 29% between 2000–01 and 2008–09. Most of the increase related to a substantial increase in the number of same-day hospitalisations.