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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 24 September 2015) . . Page.. 3537 ..

The ACT government has made a significant investment in cancer health care through the Canberra Region Cancer Centre and allied services and through investment in research at the ANU. The 2014 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report documented that Australian cancer survival rates are among the best in the world. In 2007 to 2011 the five-year relative survival rate was 67 per cent for all cancers combined, a significant increase from 46 per cent in 1982 to 1987. We all look forward to the day when cancer is a predominantly curable disease.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.51): I thank Ms Fitzharris for raising this very important issue of cancer and cancer infrastructure. It is a matter, sadly, that has the ability to touch and affect all of us, and there is no doubt that the specific wording of the discussion, “the importance of having modern cancer facilities for the Canberra region”, is something that we can all agree on in the Assembly today.

Cancer is a diverse group of diseases, each with its own specific risk factors, progression, treatment and prognosis. The most recent estimate of the total number of new cancers diagnosed in Australia annually is 120,710. The estimated five most commonly diagnosed cancers are prostate, bowel, breast, melanoma of the skin, and lung. As an aside, it is great to see that the Speaker hosted the Prostate Cancer Support Group last night. A number of members attended, including members of the Labor Party and the Liberal Party together.

In Australia there were 22,844 deaths due to cancer in 2010, and the five most common cancer causes of death were lung, bowel, prostate, breast and pancreas. In 2010 the risk for males dying from cancer before their 85th birthday was one in four. For females, the risk was one in six.

When we look at our health services it is critical that we understand the importance and the impact of cancers and their treatment in our hospital services. In Australia in 2010-11 there were 880,432 cancer-related hospitalisations. The five cancers with the highest number of hospitalisations were the non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate, bowel, breast and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The trends are both sobering and to an extent encouraging. There are many continuing sad trends, but there is also some good news. In the next decade it is expected that the number of Australians who will die from cancers will continue to increase, but the rate of deaths will continue to decrease.

Deaths from all cancers decreased from 199 deaths per 100,000 persons in 1968 to 167 per 100,000 in 2012. Between 1994 and 2012 the mortality rate from all cancers combined decreased significantly, by 2.6 deaths per 100,000 persons every year. This decreasing trend is predicted to continue, with an estimated 56,000 deaths from all cancers combined projected for 2025. The decreasing death rate is because of, in part, well-funded health services with sufficient resources and capacity, and as a result more lives are being saved every year. We have better screening, better early interventions, better treatments and better care.

Between 2013 and 2025 the mortality rate for all cancers combined is predicted to decrease for males and for females. Sadly, however, at the same time the number of deaths from all cancers combined is predicted to increase for males and females.

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