Aussies’ odds improving as report shows cancer related death rate has fallen by 20%

A report released today shows mortality rates from all types of cancer have dropped markedly over the past thirty years, coinciding with a range of ground-breaking new cancer medicines coming into the Australian market.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Cancer in Australia in brief 2014, shows that despite an increase in prevalence of various cancers, survival rates have dramatically improved.

Medicines Australia CEO, Tim James, welcomed the report’s findings, which showed the overall mortality rate from cancer is expected to drop by 20 per cent from 209 deaths per 100,000 people in 1982, to 168 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014.

“The AIHW findings reflect the importance of cancer medicines and innovative new treatments over the past thirty years, which have made a significant contribution to the quality of life and life expectancy of cancer patients,” Mr James said.

“To see the survival rate from cancer improving significantly, with five-year survival from all cancers combined rising from 46 per cent in 1982-1986 to 67 per cent in 2007-2011, is a great testament to the health technology improvements we have made as a nation, including the contribution the medicines industry has made over the years.

“It’s important all Australian patients have access to new medicines, including cancer medicines and innovative treatments, and for these new medicines to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in a timely manner.

“This year alone, new medicines were listed on the PBS to treat melanoma, pancreatic cancer, non small-cell lung cancer and brain cancer, among others.

“But we can all do better to get new medicines to those who need them. To assist in consideration of how to maintain and improve access to new cancer treatments, Medicines Australia will be providing recommendations to the Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiry into the availability of new, innovative and specialist cancer drugs in Australia.

“The medicines industry will continue to develop new cancer medicines and innovative treatments including medical technologies, which contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer related illnesses.”

The AIHW report also showed that the number of new cancer cases rose from 47,417 to 123,920 over the past thirty years. This was due to the increasing size and age of the population, with improved diagnosis through health screening programs and new technologies used for identifying and diagnosing.

“Rising cancer rates mean that now more than ever, cancer affects everyone in our community,” Mr James said. “And every Australian deserves the latest ground-breaking treatments, whether it be for their family, friends or themselves,” Mr James said.


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