Cancer’s impact on Australians: new report

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A new report shows cancer has the biggest impact on Australians health, costing the nation more years of life than any other disease.

The report, ‘Burden of cancer in Australia: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011’ released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), shows cancer was the greatest health burden in Australia in 2011, accounting for around one-fifth of the total disease burden.

Other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, are more common and cause a greater number of deaths, cancer results in more years of life lost due to deaths occurring in younger age groups AIHW spokesperson, Michelle Gourley said.

“This is calculated in terms of years of life lost due to early death from cancer, as well as the years of healthy life lost due to living with the disease,” said Ms Gourley.

The report shows five types of cancer accounted for almost half of the cancer burden: lung, bowel, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

“Overall, the burden from cancer lessened between 2003 and 2011, down by 10 percent, and this same pattern was seen across most individual cancer types,’ Ms Gourley said.

However, this was not true for all population groups, with the cancer burden for Indigenous Australians worsening since 2003.

“Indigenous Australians experienced a cancer burden 1.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians, and the gap was particularly notable when it came to lung cancer,” Ms Gourley said.

The report also looks at the relationship between a range of behavioural risk factors, such as tobacco smoking, obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity, and the burden of cancer.

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