3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2000   
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  • Cancer still the biggest killer but Australians live longer (Media Release)

Cancer still the biggest killer but Australians live longer

Malignant neoplasms (cancer) accounted for 27% of all deaths registered in 1999, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Despite the increase in the number of cancer deaths, the standardised death rate from cancer declined between 1998 and 1999 by 1.3%. The standardised death rate for deaths from all causes declined between 1998 and 1999 and this is consistent with continuing improvements in life expectancy in Australia.

There were 128,102 deaths registered in 1999. Apart from cancer, the other leading causes of death were ischaemic heart diseases (22%) and strokes (9.6%). The standardised death rate for all causes was 584 (per 100,000 population) in 1999, down 2.2% from 598 in 1998 and down 23% from 759 in 1989.

Deaths registered in 1999 were classified using the tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) and are generally comparable at the broad level to deaths coded to ICD-9.

Other features of the 1999 data include:
  • Nearly half of all cancer deaths were due to cancer of the digestive organs (28% of total) and cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung (19%)
  • Breast cancer accounted for 16% of all female cancer deaths. The death rate for breast cancer has fallen 3.5% since 1998 and 19% since 1989.
  • Prostate cancer accounted for 13% of all male cancer deaths. The death rate for prostate cancer has fallen 4.1% since 1998 and 12% since 1989.
  • There were 27,609 deaths due to ischaemic heart diseases with the standardised death rate for males almost double that for females. Since 1989, the standardised death rate has decreased by 39%.
  • There were 2,492 deaths as a result of intentional self harm (suicide) and the death rate decreased by 9.1% from 1998. Suicide accounted for 22% and 25% of total male deaths in the 15-24 and 25-34 year age groups.
  • In 1999, the number of perinatal deaths , which comprise stillbirths and neonatal deaths (deaths of infants within 28 days of birth), was 2,133, an increase of 43 over the record low registered in 1998.

More details are available in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0) available from ABS Bookshop.