Tuesday, July 5, 2022

1.4 million Australians will die of cancer in the next 25 years

Major investment is needed for effective cancer prevention.

Long-term projections of cancer incidence and mortality estimate the future burden of cancer in a population. They can be of great use in informing the planning of health services and the management of resources. A new study by the Daffodil Centre, a joint venture of Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney, aimed to estimate incidence and mortality rates and numbers of new cases and deaths up until 2044 for all cancers combined in Australia.

The study shows that 1.45 million Australians will die of cancer in the next 25 years unless governments act, i.e., from 2020- to 2044 unless there are major investments in prevention, early detection, and patient care.

This is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind of study that offers a blueprint for how cancer should be controlled and treated in the future. It also allows for future cancer control policy and research to be prioritized according to where the highest burden is expected.

Between 2020 and 2044, it is expected that more than 4.56 million additional cancer cases will be diagnosed. Despite the fact that 1.45 million Australians are likely to die between now and 2044, the total death rate is expected to reduce by roughly 20% — a smaller drop than in the previous 25 years (30 percent).

Daffodil Centre Director and Chair of Cancer Council’s Cancer Screening and Immunisation Committee, Professor Karen Canfell, said, “the study highlighted the magnitude of expected cancer burden in Australia and how trends in future expected case and death numbers reflect success stories, opportunities, and future priorities.”

“Every one of those 4.56 million individuals that could develop cancer in the future is a valued member of our community. Research is needed to support breakthroughs in prevention, treatment, and care. Further investment is also required to increase access to the most effective existing approaches, such as national screening programs.”

Lung cancer (43 percent for men and 31 percent for women) and melanoma are the two most frequent malignancies for which death rates are expected to drop dramatically (49 percent for males and 28 percent for females). Certain decreases will be mostly driven by well-established prevention strategies, such as tobacco control and sun protection, and improved treatments for these cancers.

Professor Karen Canfell, director of The Daffodil Centre, said, “We could improve significantly on these outcomes…but only if there is a commitment to investing in doing more of what we know works to prevent, detect and treat cancer, and fund more potentially life-saving cancer research.”

“Death rates are expected to fall, at varying rates, for most cancers, except for a few cancers projected to be relatively stable or increase. While this projected decline in overall cancer death rates is positive, we know that a 20% fall over the next 25 years just isn’t enough.”

“We could improve significantly on these outcomes, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of the 1.45 million lives expected to be lost – but only if there is a commitment to investing in doing more of what we know works to prevent, detect and treat cancer, and fund more potentially life-saving cancer research.”

CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Tanya Buchanan, noted that now is the time for governments to take action.

“Australia faces an unprecedented growth in new cancer cases, representing millions of people who will require treatment and care. The government needs to act now for Australia to improve this picture across the community over the next 25 years.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Qingwei Luo et al. Cancer incidence and mortality in Australia from 2020 to 2044 and an exploratory analysis of the potential effect of treatment delays during the COVID-19 pandemic: a statistical modeling study. DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(22)00090-1
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