Cancer is a disease of the cells, the body’s basic building blocks.
Normally our cells grow and multiply in an ordered fashion. Unfortunately, if something causes a mistake to occur in the cells' genetic blueprints, they may behave abnormally and spread out of control.
Cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow rapidly and spread throughout the body in an uncontrolled manner. These cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding tissue and spread to distant parts of the body.
Cancer incidence in Australia is higher than for the United Kingdom and Canada, but lower than the United States and New Zealand. Australia's mortality rates are lower than all four of these countries.
- An estimated 106,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Australia each year.
- 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in Australia will be diagnosed with some form of cancer before the age of 85.
- Cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia – more than 39,000 people are estimated to die from cancer each year.
- $215 million was spent on cancer research in 2000-01, 18% of all health research expenditure in Australia.
- More than 60% of cancer patients will survive more than five years after diagnosis. The survival rate for many common cancers has increased by more than 30 per cent in the past two decades.
- The most common cancers in Australia (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) are prostate, colorectal (bowel), breast, melanoma and lung cancer.
- Cancer costs $2.7 billion in direct health system costs (5.7%).
- At least 1 in 3 cancer cases is preventable and the number of cancer deaths could be reduced significantly by choosing a cancer smart lifestyle.
- More than 13,000 cancer deaths each year are due to smoking, sun exposure, poor diet, alcohol, inadequate exercise or being overweight.
Charities like Mater Foundation are helping to raise much needed funds for cancer research and treatment. By supporting Mater Foundation and Mater Lotteries, you can help us find better ways to diagnose, treat, and ultimately cure cancer.