Lung cancer in Australia
The following material has been sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Lung cancer incorporates ICD-10 cancer codes C33 (Malignant neoplasm of trachea) and C34 (Malignant neoplasm of bronchus and lung).
Estimated number of new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in 2018
12,741 = 7,212 males + 5,529 females
Estimated % of all new cancer cases diagnosed in 2018
Estimated number of deaths from lung cancer in 2018
9,198 = 5,229 males + 3,969 females
Estimated % of all deaths from cancer in 2018
Chance of surviving at least 5 years (2009–2013)
People living with lung cancer at the end of 2012 (diagnosed in the 5 year period 2008 to 2012)
New cases of lung cancer
Lung cancer was the 5th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2013. It is estimated that it will remain the 5th most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2017 (Table 1).
In 2013, there were 11,174 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in Australia (6,627 males and 4,548 females). In 2018, it is estimated that 12,741 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (7,212 males and 5,529 females).
In 2013, the age–standardised incidence rate was 43 cases per 100,000 persons (55 for males and 33 for females). In 2017, it is estimated that the age–standardised incidence rate will be 42 cases per 100,000 persons (52 for males and 35 for females). The incidence rate of lung cancer is expected to generally increase with age (Figure 1).
In 2017, it is estimated that the risk of an individual being diagnosed with lung cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 17 (1 in 14 males and 1 in 21 females).
The number of new cases of lung cancer diagnosed increased from 5,951 (4,691 males and 1,260 females) in 1982 to 11,174 in 2013. Over the same period, the age–standardised incidence rate decreased from 47 cases per 100,000 persons (85 for males 18 for females) in 1982 to 43 cases per 100,000 persons in 2013 (Figure 2).
|Cancer type||New cases 2017||% of all new cancers 2017|
|Breast (among females)||17,586||28.4|
|Prostate (among males)||16,665||23.1|
Deaths from lung cancer
In 2014, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths in Australia. It is estimated that it will remain the most common cause of death from cancer in 2017 (Table 2).
In 2014, there were 8,251 deaths from lung cancer in Australia (4,947 males and 3,304 females). In 2018, it is estimated that this will increase to 9,198 deaths (5,229 males and 3,969 females).
In 2014, the age–standardised mortality rate was 31 deaths per 100,000 persons (40 for males and 23 for females). In 2017, it is estimated that the age–standardised mortality rate will be 31 deaths per 100,000 persons (38 for males and 24 for females). The mortality rate of lung cancer will generally increase with age for both males and females (Figure 1).
In 2017, it is estimated that the risk of an individual dying from lung cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 23 (1 in 18 males and 1 in 29 females).
The number of deaths from lung cancer increased from 2,883 (2,509 males and 374 females) in 1968 to 8,251 in 2014. Over the same period, the age–standardised mortality rate increased from 32 deaths per 100,000 persons (62 for males and 7.8 for females) in 1968 to a high of 43 per 100,000 (74 for males and 20 for females) in 1989 before decreasing to 31 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2014. This decrease in mortality has largely been seen in males. While age–standardised rates for lung cancer in females has been lower than that in males, the age–standardised rate has increased to 23 per 100,000 females in 2014 (Figure 2).
|Cancer type||Number of deaths 2017||% of all cancer deaths 2017|
|Prostate (among males)||3,452||12.7|
|Breast (among females)||3,087||14.9|
Figure 1: Estimated age-specific incidence and mortality rates for lung cancer, by sex, 2017
Source: AIHW .
Figure 2: Age-standardised incidence rates for lung cancer 1982–2013 and age-standardised mortality rates for lung cancer 1968–2014, by sex
Source: AIHW .
Survival from lung cancer
In 2009–2013, individuals diagnosed with lung cancer had a 16% chance (14% for males and 19% for females) of surviving for 5 years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population.
Between 1984–1988 and 2009–2013, 5-year relative survival from lung cancer improved from 9% to 16%.
Figure 3: 5-year relative survival from lung cancer, 1984–1988 to 2009–2013
Source: AIHW .
Survivorship population for lung cancer
The survivorship population is measured using prevalence data. Prevalence refers to the number of people alive who have previously been diagnosed with lung cancer.
The prevalence for 1, 5 and 31 years given below are the number of people living with lung cancer at the end of 2012 who had been diagnosed in the preceding 1, 5 and 31 years respectively.
At the end of 2012, there were 6,951 people living who had been diagnosed with lung cancer that year, 15,924 people who had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the previous 5 years (from 2008 to 2012) and 25,381 people who had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the previous 31 years (from 1982 to 2012).
International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD–10)
Cancer is classified by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD–10). This is a statistical classification, published by the World Health Organization, in which each morbid condition is assigned a unique code according to established criteria.
Future estimations for incidence and mortality are a mathematical extrapolation of past trends. They assume that the most recent trends will continue into the future, and are intended to illustrate future changes that might reasonably be expected to occur if the stated assumptions continue to apply over the estimated period. Actual future cancer incidence and mortality rates may vary from these estimations. For instance, new screening programs may increase the detection of new cancer cases; new vaccination programs may decrease the risk of developing cancer; and improvements in treatment options may decrease mortality rates.
Cancer incidence indicates the number of new cancers diagnosed during a specified time period (usually one year).
The 2013 national incidence counts include estimates for NSW because the actual data were not available. Note that actual data for the Australian Capital Territory do not include cases identified from death certificates.
The 2017 estimates are based on 2004–13 incidence data. Due to rounding of these estimates, male and female incidence may not sum to person incidence.
Cancer mortality refers to the number of deaths occurring during a specified time period (usually one year) for which the underlying cause of death is cancer.
The 2017 estimates are based on mortality data up to 2013. Joinpoint analysis was used on the longest time series of age–standardised rates available to determine the starting year of the most recent trend.
Prevalence of cancer refers to the number of people alive with a prior diagnosis of cancer at a given time. It is distinct from incidence, which is the number of new cancers diagnosed within a given period of time. The longest period for which it is possible to calculate prevalence using the available national data (from 1982 to 2012) is currently 31 years so this is used to provide an estimate of the ‘total’ prevalence of cancer as at the end of 2012, noting that people diagnosed with cancer before 1982 aren’t included.
Age standardised rates
Incidence and mortality rates expressed per 100,000 population are age–standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books: Lung cancer. Canberra: AIHW. www.aihw.gov.au/acim-books.
AIHW 2017. Cancer in Australia 2017. Cancer series no. 101. Cat. No. CAN 100. Canberra: AIHW.