Lung cancer

Lung cancer overtaken by dementia as second leading cause of death in males

Dementia has replaced lung cancer as the second leading cause of death for males in Australia.

For females, lung cancer has fallen from fourth to fifth highest cause of death, according 2019 figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In its report the ABS shows that pulmonary disease accounted for two of the top five causes of the 169,301 deaths in Australia in 2019. Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung ranked fourth with 8,821 deaths in both sexes while chronic lower respiratory diseases was fifth with 8,372 deaths.

For males between 2010 and 2019 the death rate for lung cancer decreased by 20.4% while the rate for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, increased by 30.9%.

In 2019, the age-standardised death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population for men was 76.0 for ischaemic heart disease, 38.1 for dementia and 35.9 for lung cancer.

For females, the death rate in 2019 for lung cancer was 22.0 per 100,000, compared to 23.1 for chronic lower respiratory diseases, 29.6 for cerebrovascular diseases, 37.7 for ischaemic heart disease and 46.1 for dementia.

However, despite the declines in death rates, lung cancer was still the third leading cause of years of potential life lost, with 55,807 years overall compared to 78,052 for ischaemic heart disease and 115,221 for intentional self harm.

Chronic lower respiratory disease also overtook diabetes to become the second leading cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the report showed. In 2019 the age-standardised death rate was 83.2/100,000 for chronic lower respiratory disease and 61.3 for lung cancer among Indigenous Australians.

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