Cancer survival rates in Tasmania climb to record high

Alicon Venn

A new report released by the Tasmanian Cancer Registry has shown that cancer survival rates in Tasmania have improved significantly over the past 20 years.

The report, Cancer Survival and Prevalence in Tasmania 1978 – 2008 is the first survival data published by the Tasmanian Cancer Registry, which is managed by the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania.

Survival at five years after diagnosis for all cancers diagnosed in 2004-2008 was 64 per cent, a major improvement from the 42 per cent seen for cancers diagnosed between 1984 -1988. This means at least 3 out of 5 Tasmanians diagnosed with cancer survived beyond five years.

The highest survival was seen for thyroid cancer (98 per cent) and melanoma (92 per cent) in men and women, prostate cancer in men (97 per cent) and breast cancer in women (89 per cent).

Cancers with the lowest five-year survival were lung cancer (13 per cent) and stomach cancer (23 per cent).

Menzies Acting Director, Professor Alison Venn says that overall the data is extremely positive.

“We are very optimistic about these results, with survival rates for most cancers reported on being markedly higher in 2004 – 2008 than in earlier time periods.”

“The results highlight the importance of medical research in contributing to improvements in early detection and treatment of many cancers.”

“Unfortunately they also highlight the persistently poor survival of people with lung cancer and the terrible consequences of smoking which underlies most cases,” Professor Venn said.

Cancer Council Tasmania CEO, Simon Barnsley, welcomes the recent report.

“This is a very valuable resource for the community as it reflects the major advances made over recent decades in the fight against cancer.”

“One very welcome finding is the big increase in survival rates for colorectal cancer, from 41 per cent to 62 per cent. And survival could be increased even more through early detection and participation in the bowel cancer screening program,” Mr Barnsley said.

Survival was generally similar for both males and females and survival in Tasmania was similar to Australia as a whole.

While these population statistics give a picture of cancer survival for the Tasmanian population as a whole, it is recommended that individuals with cancer seek expert medical advice to determine their likely prognosis given all other relevant clinical information.

Read the full copy of the Cancer Survival and Prevalence in Tasmanian 1978 – 2008.

Image: Menzies Tasmania Acting Director, Professor Alison Venn.