Cancer Control in NSW – A Summary of the Latest Findings

Cancer Institute NSW recently released their latest report on Cancer Control. Here, we summarise some of their latest findings.

Every year, Cancer Institute NSW (part of NSW Health) produces a Cancer Control report, which allows us to see what progress is being made in cancer control. The information is then shared with key health organisations so they can identify opportunities for improvement at a local level.

This information is collected and reported each year as part of the Cancer Institute NSW Reporting for Better Cancer Outcomes (RBCO) program. Working with health professionals, researchers, the community, and other government and non-government organisations, Cancer Institute NSW focuses on cancer prevention, cancer screening and cancer research in the state.

Cancer Control is about reducing the effect of cancer on individuals, and on the community. It involves:

  • Reducing the number of people who get cancer
  • Increasing the survival of people with cancer
  • Improving the quality of life of people with cancer.

In 2020, more than 48,000 cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in NSW, with over 15,500 people expected to die in the state. Thankfully, though, survival rates continued to improve for most cancers.

Read on to find out more about cancer prevention, screening, treatment and services, research and statistics and survival rates in NSW today.

Cancer Prevention

Links between smoking and cancer have been widely reported for a number of years, and latest findings show that the adverse effects of smoking are become more widely understood:

  • From 2009 to 2018, the NSW adult smoking rate fell by 3.9 percentage points to 10.3% of the surveyed population.
  • From 2012 to 2017, the proportion of women who smoked during pregnancy fell by 0.9 percentage points to 8.8%.
  • From 2012 to 2017, the smoking rate among Aboriginal pregnant women fell from 49.9% to 42.4%.
  • Alcohol has also been linked to certain cancers.
  • In 2018, around 70% of adults in NSW consumed alcohol within the range suggested in the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.
  • A healthy diet and protection against the sun can protect against the development of cancer.
  • In 2018, the proportion of adults consuming the recommended intake of vegetables daily was only 5.9%, while the proportion of adults consuming enough fruit was 40.9%. These results are similar to the previous reporting period.
  • In 2016, around 34% of people wore hats and around 64% of people wore sunglasses when they were in the sun for more than 15 minutes.

Cancer Screening

Screening programs for certain cancers have improved in recent years, and are being utilised and are more readily available than ever before.

Between 2012–2013 and 2017–2018, participation in BreastScreen increased for NSW women aged 50–74 years.

Between 2012–2013 and 2017–2018, participation in BreastScreen also improved for the following community groups:

  1. Aboriginal Women – an increase of almost 2,600 screens, in the last five-year period.
  2. Multicultural Women – an increase of more than 23,000 screens, in the last five-year period. For people aged 50–74 years in NSW, participation in bowel screening increased from 33.0% in 2013 to 39.5% in 2018. 

Cancer Treatment and Services

The proportion of cancer surgeries being performed at public hospitals that meet the minimum suggested annual caseload has increased in NSW for lung and gastric cancers.

  • From 2015 to 2018, the use of hypofractionated radiotherapy (a smaller number of fractions, each providing a higher dose of radiation. This means people need less visits to complete their course of radiotherapy) for early stage breast cancer varied widely across public facilities, ranging from 29% to 97% in the reported NSW public cancer centres providing radiotherapy.
  • From 2015 to 2018, the use of single fraction radiotherapy for bone metastases varied widely across the reported NSW public cancer centres, ranging from 20% to 54%.
  • In 2018, about one-third (31%) of people having cancer treatment as an outpatient in NSW public hospital cancer clinics indicated they felt anxiety at a moderate or high level. Similarly, 28% of people felt depression at a moderate or high level.

Cancer Research

In NSW, the number of cancer clinical trials open for people with cancer to join continues to increase. Overall, in NSW, there are six enrolments in cancer clinical trials for every 100 people newly diagnosed with cancer.

  • Bowel and neurological cancer have the highest ratio of participant enrolments in clinical trials to newly diagnosed cancer cases.

In the cancer clinical trials that the Cancer Institute NSW supports;

  • There is a lower participation rate among patients in the lower socio-economic areas of NSW.
  • Adolescents and young adults are more likely to participate in these clinical trials than other adults. 

Cancer Statistics

  • In 2020, 48,846 cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in NSW. This is an incidence rate of 483.7 new cancer diagnoses for every 100,000 people living in NSW.
  • By 2022, the total number of cancer cases is expected to increase as the NSW population grows. The incidence rate is likely to stay about the same.
  • In 2020, 15,756 people are expected to die from cancer in NSW. This is a mortality rate of 146.4 cancer deaths for every 100,000 people living in NSW.
  • By 2022, the total number of cancer deaths is expected to increase as the NSW population grows. The mortality rate is expected to fall to 142.1 for every 100,000 people.

Cancer Survival

Although the five-year relative survival rates vary for different cancer types, In NSW, overall survival for all cancers has improved, but there are some differences between local health districts. Most deaths from cancer occur in older age groups.

Things are improving, but we are still not where we need to be. Please make a donation today to ensure life changing research into all types of cancer can continue: DONATE.


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