Premature cancer deaths a significant burden in Queensland

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The number of Queenslanders dying prematurely from lung, bowel and breast cancer resulted in a staggering 63,260 years of life lost in 2015 – a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study has found.

A new preliminary report, Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015: fatal burden, estimated that 32,514 years of life were lost to lung cancer in 2015, 18,498 to bowel cancer and 12,248 to breast cancer across the state.

Years of life lost are calculated by summing the number of deaths at each age, then multiplying by the remaining life expectancy at that age. One year of life lost corresponds to one year lost due to premature death.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the figures were concerning, with more Queenslanders dying prematurely from lung, bowel and breast cancer than any other cancer.

“Overall, there were 162,215 years of life lost in Queensland in 2015 as a result of all cancers – with lung, bowel and breast cancers showing the highest premature death rates,” Ms McMillan said.

“These figures reinforce the critical need to improve survival rates and find a cure for this devastating disease to ensure that more lives are not cut short.

“In Queensland more than 27,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer each year, and 8700 die from the disease.

“We’re dedicated to ensuring Queenslanders have the best chance of detecting and treating cancer, by investing in lifesaving research studies, prevention programs and support services.”

The AIHW data confirmed cancer remains the leading cause of the total fatal disease burden in Queensland – and Australia.

“The data also shows that the number of men who die prematurely is significantly higher than the number of women who die early as a result of lung and bowel cancer in particular, Ms McMillan said.

“Research shows around 22 per cent of the total cancer burden can be attributed to tobacco use, which contributes to an increased risk of chronic disease, including lung cancer.

“It’s important for us to do what we can to avoid preventable cancers and reduce the risk of premature death.

“One third of all cancers can be prevented by staying SunSmart, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, and participating in recommended cancer screening programs.”

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or via 13 11 20.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Laura McKoy,
Media Manager,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5345
Mobile: 0409 001 171