Lives saved by improvements in cancer prevention

ABOUT 61,000 Australian lives have been saved by improvements in cancer prevention, screening and treatment over the past 20 years, according to new Cancer Council research released today.

The Cancer Council study compared recent cancer deaths with the late 1980s, showing the largest reductions in deaths across all types of cancer were for lung, bowel and breast cancers, and an overall reduction of about 30 per cent in cancer deaths.

Annual lung cancer deaths have fallen by 2154 compared with what we could have expected if late-1980s trends had continued.

There were also 1797 less bowel cancer deaths, and 773 less breast cancer deaths.

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said the report highlighted the combined advances in cancer prevention, research and treatment were working, and saving lives.

"We expect about 8000 deaths to be avoided each year if current advances in cancer are maintained," Ms Clift said.

"The significant fall in expected lung cancer deaths reflects a big drop in the number of male smokers.

"But, unfortunately, we have seen a small increase in the number of women who die from lung cancer and this can largely be attributed to the increase in women smoking up until the 1970s. Further reductions in smoking rates will see more lives saved from lung cancer.

"Reductions in expected bowel and breast cancer deaths are likely due to significant improvements in early detection and treatment," Ms Clift added. 

"The national breast screening program, introduced from the late 1980s and rolled out in the years following, has played a vital role in saving lives. Applying this success to a full roll out of the bowel screening program could further reduce bowel cancer deaths."

However, the research revealed that some cancers have seen little improvements over the last 20 years, prompting a call for more research and investment into these cancers and continued focus on sustaining the advances we have already seen.

Cancer types with the smallest improvements over 20 years include cancer of the brain (148 fewer deaths), pancreatic (69 fewer deaths) and oesophagus (64 fewer deaths).

"Brain, pancreatic and oesophagus cancers are amongst the most globally underfunded and that is why Cancer Council has boosted our research investment into all three of these cancer types.

"Yet we can do better in all cancer types, because prevention and detection programs have not reached their potential. With more research we can also improve treatment outcomes."

While lung, bowel and breast cancers had the biggest reductions in number of actual deaths avoided, they remained in the top four causes of cancer death, because they are prevalent and increase in incidence as we age.

Other factors that can increase risk include obesity, a known bowel and breast cancer risk factor.

"Applying what we know now, investing more into research and translating good research into effective practice will save more Australians in the future. This is particularly important for lung cancer which remains the biggest annual cancer killer," Ms Clift added. 

Cancer Council Queensland has a strong ongoing commitment to fund high quality research that is made possible by the generosity of the people of Queensland through events such as Australia's Biggest Morning Tea which has been an ongoing success for the last 20 years.

To support this event visit

Topics:  cancer cancer council cancer council queensland health

11 flood mitigation options for Bundaberg

FLOOD PLANS: Locals look at the options available at the North Bundaberg Progress Hall.

Residents can now have their say

Bundaberg local fights back against cancer with nail wraps

Bundaberg local fights back against cancer with nail wraps

Girls' Night In encourages locals to get their friends together

Mayor launches annual festive fundraiser

SEASON OF GIVING: Santa, Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey and the crew launch the 2016 Christmas Appeal.

Appeal off to great start with $4000 donation

Local Partners

Steve Irwin's final days through dad's eyes

Bob Irwin with his son Steve.

'You never expect that’s the last time you’re going to see your son'

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals