Cancer in Victoria: statistics & trends 2012

Public health Diseases Australia Victoria

This report is a compilation of the latest available Victorian cancer statistics.

Key messages:


Cancer is a leading cause of disease burden in Victoria with an average of 80 new diagnoses every day. In 2012, 29,387 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer incidence rates continue to increase (annual increases of 0.8% for men and 0.6% for women).


There are 30 deaths from cancer in Victoria every day. In 2012, 10,780 people died from cancer.

Death rates have declined steadily since 1982 (falls of 1.4% per year for males and 1.1% for females). This reflects earlier detection of cancers through screening, falling tobacco use, especially by males, and improvements in treatment.

In 2012, cancer deaths in Victoria resulted in the premature loss of nearly 60,000 years of life. This is more than four times the loss resulting from other major causes of death.

Most common cancers

Breast cancer is the most common new cancer for Victorian women with almost 3,700 diagnoses in 2012 (28% of all cancers).

Though prostate cancer incidence rates declined from 2009 to 2012, it remains the most common new cancer for Victorian men with almost 4,800 new diagnoses in 2012 (30% of all cancers).

The five most common cancers in Victoria are prostate, bowel, breast, lung and melanoma. These account for almost 60% of all new cancers and half of cancer deaths.

Less common cancers

In this report, we highlight some less common cancers for which incidence rates are increasing, including liver and thyroid cancer.

Liver cancer - incidence rates are increasing by more than 4% per year in both men and women which is largely due to prevalence of chronic hepatitis B infection. However, vaccination is now recommended to persons at increased risk of hepatitis B infection, including migrants from countries where this is common, those in contact with infected individuals, recipients of blood products and children.

Thyroid cancer - is three times more common in women than in men and is increasing by over 6% and 5% per year respectively. The differences between the sexes may include increased incidence and treatment of non-cancerous thyroid disease in females resulting in incidental detection of asymptomatic cancers.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Victorians

There are over 90 new diagnoses of cancer and almost 40 deaths for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Victorians each year.

Overall cancer incidence rates were higher for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Victorian women than for Victorian women of other descent but male rates did not differ significantly.

Mortality rates were significantly higher for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Victorians than Victorians of other descent for both men and women.

Trends in cervix cancer

The incidence rate of cervix cancer in Victorian women has fallen by 45% in the last twenty years, with death rates falling by 61% over the same period. This decline is largely attributable to the success of the population-based organised screening program.

Staging data for 2008-2009 show that almost 60% of women are diagnosed with early disease. In women aged less than 30 years, almost 90% have stage 1 cancer. Stage 4 disease is most prominent (15%) in women aged over 50 years.


During the period 1987-2011, five-year survival increased from 47% to 66%.


It is estimated that by 2023-2027 the annual incidence of cancer will reach over 44,000, an increase of 53% from 2008-2012.

During the same period, deaths from cancer will increase to over 13,000 per year. Though actual numbers of new cases and deaths are increasing rapidly, this is largely due to the growth and ageing of the Victorian population.


Edited by Vicky Thursfield, Carolyn Staines, Graham Giles, and Helen Farrugia.

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