Explore the data below for information on new cancer cases, survival, prevalence and deaths.

The data presented in these pages cover a large majority of the Indigenous Australian population, however reliable data are not available for all states and territories.

Data by Indigenous status for cancer incidence, survival and prevalence are available for the states and territories where 90% of Indigenous Australians live (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory). 

Data by Indigenous status for cancer mortality are available for the states and territories where 88% of all Indigenous Australians live (New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory).

See the Notes section for more details on data availability.

Background information

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (respectfully referred to as Indigenous Australians) are disadvantaged across a range of health and socioeconomic indicators, when compared with non-Indigenous Australians. Many factors contribute to the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health, including social disadvantage (such as lower education and employment rates) as well as higher smoking rates, poor nutrition, physical inactivity and poor access to health services [1]. Indigenous Australians are also more likely to live in remote areas of Australia than non-Indigenous people.

Indigenous Australians are less likely to participate in bowel, breast and cervical population screening programs. For all cancers combined, Indigenous Australians are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from, cancers than non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians had lower survival rates than non-Indigenous Australians and hence, lower prevalence rates.

The following web pages present information on cancer incidence (new cases), relative survival, conditional survival, prevalence and mortality (deaths) by Indigenous status. Participation in national cancer screening programs is also included where available. Data are available from a range of sources and different years. Data are presented by topic and cancer type, according to sex, age group or life stage, trends over time, state and territory and remoteness area.

Some data have been presented for multiple years to reduce the chance of random variations in rates from year to year. This is especially important for small population groups which are more likely to involve small counts. To demonstrate random variations, data for individual years have been presented for time trend figures. Where statistically significant, estimated trend lines have been applied to figures based on a least-squares regression equation to indicate any potential trends. See the Notes section for more details. Observed differences by the characteristics examined in this section may result from a number of underlying factors, including variations in:

  • population characteristics (for example, a relatively greater proportion of Indigenous people living in remote areas)
  • the prevalence of risk and/or protective factors in the population (for example, tobacco consumption, physical activity and cancer screening)
  • the availability and usage of diagnostic services.

Indigenous Australians continue to experience difficulties accessing health services and experience significantly disparate health outcomes as evidenced by the data in this report. The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards are an important tool in supporting Australian health services to deliver safe, high-quality care to patients. In November 2017, the Commission released the NSQHS Standards (second edition). It is hoped that these changes will lead to improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by promoting and supporting participation and engagement in their care.


  1. AIHW 2016. Australia’s health 2016. Australia’s health series no. 15. Cat. no. AUS 199. Canberra: AIHW.