THE number of Australians living with or beyond a cancer diagnosis will soar by a staggering 72 per cent by the year 2040.

Prostate, breast and bowel cancers as well as melanomas are the biggest contributors to the escalating numbers, according to a new report released on Thursday by the Cancer Council.

Thanks partly to unhealthy diets and lifestyle and an ageing population, one in 18 Australians will experience cancer. Today the number is one in 22. Higher survival rates are the upside of the shock numbers.

Professor Sanchia Aranda, Cancer Council Australia's chief executive and president of the Union for International Cancer Control, said that while survival rates are improving, the figures highlight some unique challenges for cancer control, management and support services for the future.

"While 64 per cent of the 1.9 million Australians who have been diagnosed with cancer by 2040 will have lived more than five years beyond diagnosis, a substantial proportion will have been recently diagnosed and will be undergoing treatment and others may be living with advanced cancer," Prof Aranda said.

Cancer survivor Caylie Saunders has refused to let the diagnosis define her life. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Cancer survivor Caylie Saunders has refused to let the diagnosis define her life. Picture: Nigel Hallett

A new cancer study published yesterday in The Lancet shows that Australia has one of the highest survival rates in the world.

CCQ's head of research Prof Joanne Aitken was the only Australian co-author on the paper.

"Survival rates for all leading cancer types in Australia, including melanoma, prostate, breast and colorectal, are among the best in the world.

"Around 93 per cent of people diagnosed with melanoma in Australia will survive at least five years, 95 per cent of people diagnosed with prostate cancer, 90 per cent of people diagnosed with breast cancer, and 71 per cent of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer will also survive five years after diagnosis," Prof Aitken said.

"Funding and continued investment into population-based cancer registries is critical to the advancement of cancer control in Australia.

"Cancer registries are vital for monitoring the success of cancer prevention, early detection and treatment strategies. They provide data urgently needed to guide the fight against cancer," she said.

The Lancet study analysed data from 322 cancer registries.

At the age of 26 Caylie Saunders was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and endured six months of chemo. Now, at 29, she refuses to let the traumatic diagnosis define her life.

"I try to maintain a healthy diet and I exercise and keep hoping that the cancer is behind me. "It was a devastating, frightening diagnosis at the time and I am so grateful for the research going into cancer treatments," the Gold Coast woman said.



Prostate ...... 3890

Melanoma ..... 3660

Breast ... 3360

Colorectal ... 3090

Lung ... 2300

Source: CCQ latest yearly data



Thyroid ....... 97.5 per cent

Prostate ... 93.6 per cent

Melanoma ... 93.1 per cent

Breast ... 91.2 per cent

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma ... 77.4 per cent

Source: CCQ