By Alexandra Duval

Edited for online by Matthew Gharakhanian

Cancer deaths in Australia has dropped by more than 60,000 in 20 years according to a new study released today.

Overall cancer rates in Australia has fallen by 30 per cent since 1987 according to a new report by the Cancer Council of New South Wales.

The report is based on the most recent available data taken between 1986 and 2008 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift says she is enthusiastic about the findings.

“What we’ve seen over the past 20 years is around 61,000 Australian lives that have been saved by improvements in cancer prevention, screening and treatment,” Ms Clift says.

“If you look at all cancers, we do see that an overall reduction of about 30 per cent in cancer deaths has been seen.”

She says, however, the report revealed lung cancer rates for women has increased, which she says is “attributed to the increase in women smoking up until the 1970s”.

“Further reductions in smoking rates will see more lives saved from lung cancer in the future, and for the deaths of women related to lung cancer dropping.”

Cancer Voices Australia spokesperson Sally Crossing says many women wait too long to seek treatment.

“We’ve noticed that lung cancer is probably the cancer that needs the most attention and is probably the cancer that has had the least attention,” Ms Crossing says.

“The stigma of lung cancer is really quite difficult to cope with and some people probably don’t get diagnosed early enough to be helped.”

Katie Clift says despite the promising results, more still needs to be done to improve the survival rates of people who have aggressive types of cancer.

“What we’re seeing is the cancer types with the smallest improvement over the last two decades include cancer of the brain, esophagus cancer and pancreatic cancer,” she says.

“We’re doing what we can to fund those areas and boost our research investment to help improve those cancer types and see this trend continuing in the future.”