Notes on the data: Aboriginal premature mortality by selected cause

Deaths from lung cancer, Aboriginal people aged 0 to 74 years, 2016 to 2020


Policy context:  Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory in the years 2014 and 2018, and was also the most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2011 to 2015 [1].

Indigenous Australians are 1.9 times as likely to develop and die from lung cancer as non-Indigenous Australians. A contributing factor may be the higher prevalence of smoking among Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians (38% compared with 18%) [2].

The data show that, in 2016 to 2020, over four fifths (81.4%) of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from lung cancer occurred before 75 years of age, 47.8% before 65 years and 16.2% before 55 years – details here. This was over one and a half times the proportion for the total population at ages 0 to 74 years (81.4% compared with 52.7%, a rate ratio of 1.54).


  1. Australian Government, Cancer Australia. Available from: last accessed 25 March 2022.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples of Australia: an overview. Available from: last accessed 25 March 2022.

Notes:  International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes: C33, C34

Deaths data

For deaths data released since 2007, the ABS has applied a staged approach to the coding of cause of death which affects the number of records available for release at any date. In general, the latest year’s data is preliminary, the second latest is revised and the data for the remaining years is final. For further information about the ABS revisions process see the following and related sites:

However, data published here are from the following releases: 2016 and 2017, final; 2018, revised; and 2019 and 2020, preliminary.

Data quality

Almost all deaths in Australia are registered. However, Indigenous status is not always recorded, or recorded correctly. The incompleteness of Indigenous identification (referred to as completeness of coverage) means that the number of deaths registered as Indigenous is an underestimate of the actual number of deaths which occur in the Indigenous population. It should also be noted that completeness of coverage is likely to vary between geographical areas.

While there is incomplete coverage of Indigenous deaths in all state and territory registration systems, some jurisdictions have been assessed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as having a sufficient level of coverage to enable statistics on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality to be produced. Those jurisdictions are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Aboriginal deaths from lung cancer at ages 0 to 74 years


Denominator:  Aboriginal population aged 0 to 74 years


Detail of analysis:  Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate per 100,000 Aboriginal population (aged 0 to 74 years); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


Source:  Data compiled by PHIDU from deaths data based on the 2016 to 2020 Cause of Death Unit Record Files supplied by the Australian Coordinating Registry and the Victorian Department of Justice, on behalf of the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the National Coronial Information System. The population is the proportional estimated resident population (erp) , developed by PHIDU, 2016 to 2020 average: click herefor more details.


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