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Cancer in New South Wales: Incidence Report 2009

Cancer is a major public health issue in Australia and many parts of the world. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer by age 85 is still one in two males and one in three females. The absolute number of cases of cancer is increasing as our population ages and grows, and because of the lifestyle behaviours we adopt.

The Cancer in New South Wales: Incidence Report 2009 provides cancer incidence and trends in NSW tp 2009.

Please note:  More recent Incidence data is now available in the Cancer Incidence and Mortality Report 2010

The absolute number of cases of cancer is increasing as our population ages and grows, and because of the lifestyle choices we make

Overall, cancer incidence in 2009 increased by 2.5 per cent on 2008, totalling 37,525 new cancer cases1. From 1999 to 2009, cancer incidence in men continued to increase significantly while there was no significant change in women. Prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women remains the most common, with incidence rates for both increasing by 0.7 per cent since 2008.

Promisingly, cancers that continue to show decreasing incidence rates include lung cancer in males; oesophageal cancer in females; and bladder cancer, leukaemia and stomach cancer in both males and females.

Cancers still showing significant increases in incidence rates include liver, pancreatic and thyroid cancer in both males and females; lung and uterine cancer in females; and prostate cancer in males. Lip, head and neck, melanoma and cervical cancer rates are plateauing and showing no significant change in trends for the latest 10-year period of data.

Key Facts

  • 37,525 people (21,531 males and 15,994 females) were diagnosed with invasive cancer in NSW.
  • Males were 1.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than females.
  • Cancers of the prostate, bowel, breast, melanoma and lung were the most common, and were responsible for 63 per cent of all new cases.
  • There were 230 additional cases of breast cancer in 2009 compared with 2008.
  • Breast cancer as a proportion of female cancer increased by 0.7 per cent compared to 2008.
  • There were 372 additional cases of prostate cancer in 2009 compared with 2008.
  • Prostate cancer as a proportion of male cancer increased by 0.7 per cent compared to 2008.

Cancer in Aboriginal peoples

New to this report is cancer incidence in NSW Aboriginal peoples (1999-2007)2. While prostate and breast cancer remain the most common in Aboriginal males and females respectively, there are some notable differences in the incidence of other cancers. Lung cancer incidence ranked second in both Aboriginal males and females. Head and neck cancer in Aboriginal males and cervical cancer in Aboriginal females ranks in the top five cancers in NSW Aboriginal Peoples in (1999-2007); however, these appear much further down the rankings in NSW males and females in 2009.

Overall, this data enables us to gain crucial insights into the specific impact of cancer on Aboriginal peoples, and to identify how we can best focus our efforts on improving health outcomes in Aboriginal communities.

New cases of cancer in NSW for 20093,4

Icon -peopleAll people 37,525
Icon -maleMales 21,531
Icon -femaleFemales 15,994

Most common cancers in NSW for 20093,4

Icon -peopleAll people

Most common cancers, all people
RankTypeCases% of total
1. Prostate 7,277 19.4%
2. Bowel5 4,744 12.6%
3. Breast 4,648 12.4%
4. Melanoma3 3,705 9.9%
5. Lung 3,339 8.9%

Icon -maleMales

RankTypeCases% of total
1. Prostate 7,277 33.8%
2. Bowel5 2,600 12.1%
3. Melanoma3 2,178 10.1%
4. Lung 1,991 9.2%
5. Colon 758 7.1%

Icon -femaleFemales

RankTypeCases% of total
1. Breast 4,606 28.8%
2. Bowel5 2,144 13.4%
3. Melanoma3 1,527 9.5%
4. Colon 1,443 9.0%
5. Lung 1,348 8.4%

Icon -peopleNew cases of cancer in persons, NSW, 20093,4

Chart showing the top cancers in NSW for 2009 - data is available in the following table.

1. Prostate 7,277
2. Bowel5 4,744
3. Breast 4,648
4. Melanoma3 3,705
5. Lung 3,339
6. Colon 2,969
7. Rectal 1,775
8. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma 1,378
9. Kidney 1,037
10. Head and neck 1,011
11. Cancer unknown primary (CUP) 908
12. Leukaemia 896
13. Pancreatic 832
14. Thyroid 778
15. Bladder 747
16. Uterine 685
17. Stomach 652
18. Liver 507
19. Brain 505
20. Myeloma 436
21. Oesophagus 404
22. Ovarian 395
23. Myelodisplasia 325
24. Lip 272
25. Cervical 250


  1. Previously, we published the annual Cancer Incidence and Mortality Report; however, mortality data is not available for 2009 due to the delayed release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) 2009 data on coded cause of deaths. As a result: there has been a delay in the release of this report; all survival data has been removed from the report; and the 2009 incidence data is expected to be underreported by an estimated 1.7 per cent of all cancers, due to the missing cases that are usually identified during death certificate processing by the ABS. Appendix 3 of the incidence report contains more details. The most recent NSW cancer mortality data can be found in the Cancer in NSW: Incidence and Mortality 2008 report.
  2. The data reported reflects the data that was publicised in the Cancer in NSW Aboriginal peoples: Incidence, mortality and survival report published in 2012 (see page 43 for more information).
  3. Includes invasive cancers only and excludes non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC).
  4. Excludes death certificate only (DCO) cases in 2009. DCO cases are incident cases identified during death certificate processing. For further information refer to Appendix 3.
  5. Cancers of the colon and rectum are presented in this report both separately and together as bowel.