Statistics and Indicators

Bowel cancer – incidence and mortality

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    • Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in both males and females. As the greatest risk factor is older age, the number of people in the ACT with bowel cancer is likely to increase as the proportion of older people in our population grows.
    • Bowel cancer can develop insidiously over many years, which can often result in late diagnosis and poor long-term survival; however, when detected early, 90% of cases can be treated successfully. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) was introduced in 2006 to target the screening of Australians aged 50 to 74 years, and recent evidence suggests this is already reducing colorectal cancer deaths.1
    • A number of risk factors can increase a person’s chance of developing bowel cancer. Many of these are modifiable, and include physical inactivity, high alcohol consumption, smoking and excess body fat.1
    • In 2018 there were 190 new cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in ACT residents (52% in males and 48% in females). The age-standardised incidence rate for the ACT in 2018 was 45.3 cases per 100,000 people (50.3 for males and 40.7 for females) compared to 53.3 cases per 100,000 people for Australia in 2017 (60.7 for males and 46.7 for females).2
    • Overall, bowel cancer rates in the ACT have declined from 61.3 per 100,000 population in 1994 to 45.3 per 100,000 people in 2018.
    • In 2017, 64 people (56% males and 44% females) who lived in the ACT at the time of their bowel cancer diagnosis died from bowel cancer. In 2017, the age-standardised mortality rate for the ACT was 15.8 deaths per 100,000 people (19.9 for males and 11.9 for females) compared to 17.8 deaths per 100,000 people for Australia (21.5 for males and 14.7 for females).2
    • Five-year relative survival for bowel cancer has improved over time, from 57% in the period 1988–1997 to 71% for the period 2008–2017, due to enhanced treatment and, possibly, earlier diagnosis. While there were no significant differences in survival between males and females, those aged under 65 had significantly better survival than those aged 65 and older (75.4% and 69.1%, respectively). It is hoped that population screening for bowel cancer will contribute to further improvements in the years to come.2-9

     

    References

    1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: monitoring report 2018. Canberra: AIHW; 2018 [cited 2021 Nov 4]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer-screening/national-bowel-cancer-screening-program-2018/contents/summary.

    2. AIHW. Cancer Data in Australia. Canberra: AIHW; 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 4]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia.

    3. Ananda S, Wong H, Faragher I, et al. Survival impact of the Australian National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. Intern Med J 2016; 46(2):166-171.

    4. ACT Cancer Registry. Canberra: ACT Cancer Registry; 2021 (unpublished data).

    5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2015-2017. Canberra: ABS; 2019 [cited 2021 Nov 4]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3302.0.55.001Main+Features12015-2017?OpenDocument=.

    6. ABS. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2014-2016. Canberra: ABS; 2018 [cited 2021 Nov 4]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3302.0.55.001Main+Features12014-2016?OpenDocument=.

    7. ABS. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2013-2015. Canberra: ABS; 2017 [cited 2021 Nov 4]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3302.0.55.001Main+Features12013-2015?OpenDocument=.

    8. ABS. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2012-2014. Canberra: ABS; 2016 [cited 2021 Nov 4]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3302.0.55.001Main+Features12012-2014?OpenDocument=.

    9. ABS. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2011-2013. Canberra: ABS; 2015 [cited 2021 Nov 4]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3302.0.55.001Main+Features12011-2013?OpenDocument=.

    The authors wish to thank the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Coroners and the National Coronial Information System for enabling the cause of death unit record file data to be used for this publication.

    To access the data please click on the "View source data" link at the bottom of the visualisation. This link will open up a data table that you can download.