Health & Healthcare

Head and neck cancer on the decline in Australia

In positive news for healthcare practitioners in Australia, a new report indicates that rates of head and neck cancer are dropping in Australia.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) ‘Head and neck cancers in Australia’ report, the rate of these cancers decreased from 19.3 to 16.8 cases diagnosed per 100,000 people in the almost three decades from 1982 to 2009.

The report reveals that the rate of deaths from these forms of cancer is also waning – dropping from from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people to 3.8 between 1982 and 2011.

The AIHW defines head and neck cancers as those occurring in the throat (affecting either the pharynx or larynx), nose, sinuses and mouth.

However, the AIHW pointed out that while the rates of head and neck cancer are falling, the total number of head and neck cancers diagnosed in the country actually increased in the measured period. The number of diagnosed cases went up from 2,475 in 1982 to 3,896 in 2009. The AIHW stated that Australia’s increasing and ageing population is likely behind this rise.

There were also discrepancies in head and neck cancer cases across the genders, AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey revealed.

“The number of head and neck cancer cases diagnosed in 2009 was higher for males than females, with males accounting for 74 per cent of head and neck cancers compared to 26 per cent for females (2,875 and 1,021 respectively),” he said.

On a final note, the AIHW highlighted that survival rates from these cancers is improving. People diagnosed with head and neck cancer between 2006 and 2010 had a five-year survival of 68 per cent, compared to the wider population. The corresponding proportion in the period from 1982 to 1987 was 62 per cent.

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