National physical activity recommendations for older Australians: Discussion Document

4.5 Cancer

The National Ageing Research Institute was commissioned by The Department of Health and Ageing to review the evidence and develop physical activity recommendations for older people.

Page last updated: 01 February 2011

The current NHS data indicates that 388,500 persons (2% of the population) currently had a medically diagnosed neoplasm in 2004–05 (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006). Cancer is most prevalent in older people: 6% of 65-74 year old Australians and 8% of those aged 75 and over have cancer (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006). These figures may underestimate the prevalence, since the current National Health Survey excluded people in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. The exclusion of these groups is likely to have a greater effect on the survey data for cancer than for most other conditions. The strongest documented links to physical inactivity are for colorectal cancer. The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age (Figure 4.4), especially after the age of 45. The highest incidence is found in people aged 85 and over (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Association of Cancer Registries 2003). Colorectal cancer is the second most frequently occurring cancer in Australian men (after prostate cancer) and women (after breast cancer), when skin cancers other than melanoma are excluded. If non-melanocytic skin cancer is excluded, it is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Australia. In 2000, the incidence rate was 64.8 per 100,000 population. Incidence is much higher in men (80.2 per 100,000, age-standardised) than women (53.8 per 100,000).

Figure 4.4 Age-specific incidence of colorectal cancer, Australia, 2000



Source: Cancer in Australia 2000 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Association of Cancer Registries 2003)
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