• A patient being checked for skin cancers at a skin cancer clinic. (AAP)Source: AAP
Indigenous Australians experiencing far higher cancer burden than rest of Australia, study finds.
14 Jun 2017 - 9:03 AM  UPDATED 14 Jun 2017 - 9:28 AM

Cancer robs Australians of more years of life than any other disease, according to a new analysis.

A report released Wednesday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows while it's burden has lessened, cancer has the biggest impact on the nation's health, accounting for one-fifth of the burden.

"This is calculated in terms of years of life lost due to early death from cancer, as well as the years of healthy life lost due to living with the disease," said AIHW spokesperson Michelle Gourley.

However, this was not true for all population groups, with the cancer burden for Indigenous Australians worsening since 2003.

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Indigenous Australians experienced a cancer burden 1.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians.

The gap was particularly notable when it came to lung cancer, said Ms Gourley.

Indigenous males experienced 2.3 times the lung cancer burden of non-Indigenous males, and for Indigenous females the rate was 2.6 times as high.

While other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, are more common and cause a greater number of deaths, cancer results in more years of life lost due to deaths occurring in younger age groups.

The report, based on 2011 data, shows five types of cancer accounted for almost half of the cancer burden - lung, bowel, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

"Overall, the burden from cancer lessened between 2003 and 2011--down by 10 per cent -- and this same pattern was seen across most individual cancer types," Ms Gourley said.

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Australians in remote and lower socio-economic areas also experienced greater cancer burden than other Australians.

In particular, people in the lowest socio-economic group experienced burden from lung cancer at almost twice the rate of the highest socio-economic group.

Almost a quarter, 22 per cent, of the total cancer burden was attributed to tobacco use.