Cancer Prevalence

Cancer prevalence is - beside cancer incidence and mortality - of particular interest in order to provide a comprehensive overview of cancer in Austria. Information on cancer prevalence is of primary interest for health care planning and resource allocation because it identifies the burden of disease or health-related events in the population and for health care systems. However, the question “How many cancer patients are there in Austria?” is not only of interest for public health, but also of individual interest.

Cancer prevalence comprises new and pre-existing cases alive on a certain date or during a certain period, in contrast to incidence which reflects only new cases of a disease diagnosed during a given period of time. Cancer prevalence is calculated on the basis of cases registered in the Austrian cancer registry and on follow-up of their vital status. Hence, all persons diagnosed between 1983 and 2018 and alive on 31 December 2018 have been included in the analysis. The follow-up period is 35 years.

The Austrian cancer registry contains 1 305 530 reported tumours (malignant invasive cases, incl. DCO cases) in 1 212 107 persons diagnosed between 1983 and 2018. The difference between the number of tumours and persons is caused by multiple tumours. Of those 1 305 530 persons 366 843 were still alive at the end of 2018, thereof 174 972 men and 191 871 women. This means that 41.4 out of 1000 Austrians alive on 31 December 2018 have had a prior cancer diagnosis.

During the last decade (2008-2018) a notable increase in cancer prevalence has been observed. In 2008, 280 598 persons lived with a prior cancer diagnosis (132 637 men and 147 961 women). Compared to 2018 this is an increase of +31% (men: +32%, women: +30%). This increase in prevalence is a result of demographic ageing, increasing life expectancy and improved survival chances of individuals affected by cancer.

Breast cancer was the most frequent cancer localization (80 492) in women, followed by colorectal cancer (20 081) and cancer of cervic uteri (14 136). For men living with cancer, prostate cancer was the most frequent localization (68 130, followed by cancer of colon/rectum (23 766) and bladder (11 612).

Women affected by cancer surviving for a significantly longer time than men. This is mainly caused by breast cancer, which is not only the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women but also characterised by favourable survival chances. At the end of 2018, for 23% of 174 972 men and for 19% of 191 871 women living with cancer, the diagnosis was not older than three years. These people were in acute need for medical care. Health related follow-up care was less intense for those who had been diagnosed three to five years ago. This was the case for almost 11% of men (19 702 cases) and 10% of women (19 799 cases) living with cancer. For 23% of men and 22% of women alive on 31 December 2018, cancer was diagnosed five to nine years ago. Most significant differences between the sexes could be observed for those diagnosed ten years or longer ago: 43% (75 876 cases) of all men and 49% of all women (93 521 cases) living with cancer.

Please consult our German website for tables and charts containing further information.

Results (overview): Cancer prevalence

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