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South Australian Cancer Statistics:

  • Every year, approximately 3,800 South Australians lose their life to cancer.
  • There are 30 new cases of cancer diagnosed in South Australia every day.

National Cancer Statistics:

Cancer incidence

  • In 2020, a total of 10,995 South Australians were diagnosed with cancer.
  • The most common cancers for South Australian females in 2020 were breast cancer (28.5%), colorectal cancer (11.1%), and lung cancer (9.5%).
  • For South Australian males, the most commonly diagnosed cancers in 2020 were prostate cancer (accounting for 30.7% of all male cancers), colorectal cancer (9.4%), and lung cancer (9.0%).
  • Between 2016 and 2020, male incidence rates in South Australia increased by 0.1% per annum, while female incidence rates showed a decrease of 0.7%.

Cancer Deaths

  • In 2020, 3886 South Australians died from cancer, an average of 10 South Australians each day.
  • The most commonly reported cancer causes of death in South Australian males were lung cancer, accounting for 20.0% of all male cancer deaths, followed by prostate cancer (11.9%).
  • Lung cancer was also the most commonly reported cancer cause of death for females in South Australia, accounting for 17.4% of cancer deaths, followed by breast cancer (12.8%).
  • Between 2016 and 2020 mortality rates increased for males by 0.1% while female rates have shown a decrease of 0.7% per annum.

Aboriginal Australian statistics

  • Cancer incidence, mortality and burden are all higher for Aboriginal Australians compared to non-Aboriginal Australians. In 2015-2019, cancer was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal Australians, accounting for one in every five deaths.
  • Aboriginal Australians are, on average, 14% more likely to be diagnosed with any type of cancer and have a five-year survival rate that is 20% lower compared with non-Aboriginal Australians.
  • In 2011-2015 Aboriginal Australians were 1.9 times as likely to have lung cancer as non-Aboriginal Australians and 2.2 times as likely to have liver cancer. Lung and liver cancer were the leading cause of cancer deaths for Aboriginal Australians in 2015-2019.

Australian Cancer Atlas unpacks cancer burden by locality

Australians can now discover the impact of cancer in their suburb or town, with the launch of a new cutting-edge Australian Cancer Atlas.

The interactive digital cancer atlas shows national patterns in cancer incidence and survival rates based on where people live for 20 of the most common cancers in Australia – such as lung, breast and bowel cancer – likely reflecting the characteristics, lifestyles and access to health services in the area.

This world-leading project, led by researchers from Cancer Council Queensland, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and FrontierSI, will give health agencies and policy makers a better understanding of geographic disparities and health requirements across the country.


Visit the Australian Cancer Atlas for more information.

Learn more

South Australian Cancer Registry (2022): Cancer in South Australia 2020 – with projections to 2023. Adelaide: South Australian Cancer Registry, Prevention and Population Health Directorate, Wellbeing SA, Government of South Australia.

Links to national and international cancer statistics: 

South Australian cancer statistics from the SA department of health
Australian cancer statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
International cancer statistics from the International Agency for Research on Cancer

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This webpage was last updated in January 2023