Cancer biggest burden on Australia’s health

Release Date

The Burden of Cancer in Australia: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 was released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report finds that cancer continues to be the greatest cause of health burden in Australia, accounting for around one-fifth (19%) of the total disease burden in 2011.

Burden of disease analysis measures the combined impact of dying prematurely, as well as living with disease.

Cancer Australia CEO, Dr Helen Zorbas said the report finds that the cancer burden is primarily due to people dying earlier due to cancer.

“Ninety four percent of the burden of cancer is due to dying prematurely, however it is likely that this will decrease into the future, as overall cancer mortality rates are predicted to fall,” Dr Zorbas said.

“Of concern, Indigenous Australians experienced 1.7 times the cancer burden of non-Indigenous Australians, and people in the lowest socio-economic group experienced 1.4 times the cancer burden of those in the highest socio-economic group. Lung cancer was responsible for a large proportion of these differences.

“The report also found that almost one-quarter (22%) of the total cancer burden can be attributed to tobacco use,” said Dr Zorbas.

“The 17 risk factors analysed in the study accounted for 44% of the cancer burden. In addition to the burden attributable to tobacco use, a further 7.2% was due to high body mass, 7.0% due to diet and 6.4% due to physical inactivity.”

“The report gives us valuable insights across cancer types and into the future to the year 2020. These insights will inform our efforts not only to reduce cancer mortality but also improve the quality of life for survivors of cancer,” Dr Zorbas said.

View the full report The Burden of Cancer in Australia: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011.