More people surving cancer in Australia

August 25th, 2008 - 12:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 25 (IANS) Survival after cancer is improving significantly in Australia, especially among the better-off groups in the population, according to a report. The report shows that between mid-1980s and early 2000s, the relative chances of surviving five years after a diagnosis of cancer increased significantly.

The increase was generally greater for men than for women, with all-cancer five-year relative survival for men increasing from 41 percent in 1982-1986 to 58 percent for those diagnosed in 1998-2004.

Women maintained a higher survival overall, although with a smaller relative increase over the same period - from 53 percent to 64 percent.

“The greatest increases in survival were seen in the 50 to 69 year age range. This was due, at least in part, to screening programmes,” said Mark Short of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) Health Registers and Cancer Monitoring Unit.

Not all cancers showed the same improvement over the period. The best improvements were seen in prostate cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The least improvement was for brain cancer, which showed no significant change in survival.

The cancers with the highest five-year survival in the 1998-2004 period were testicular cancer (97 percent), thyroid cancer (93 percent), melanoma (92 percent), breast cancer (88 percent) and prostate cancer (85 percent).

Cancers with the lowest relative survival were pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, stomach cancer and cancer of unknown primary site.

For childhood cancers there was a large increase in five-year survival for leukaemia, from 64 percent in 1982-1986 to 83 percent in 1998-2004. But there was little change for the next most common cancers in children - cancers of the brain, bone and connective issue.

Like many other health indicators, cancer survival is not as good among people living in low socioeconomic status areas and in rural and remote Australia.

All-cancer five-year relative survival for both men and women was lower for those in low versus high socioeconomic status areas (54 percent compared to 65 percent for men and 61 percent compared to 68 percent for women). The greatest difference was apparent in non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cervical cancer.

David Currow, chief executive officer of Cancer Australia, said the findings would assist in developing future cancer control activities.

These findings were presented in a report released by AIHW.

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