Notes on the data: Premature mortality by selected cause - 0 to 74 years

Deaths from colorectal cancer, persons aged 0 to 74 years, 2016 to 2020


Policy context:  Colorectal cancer refers to cancer of the colon, rectum and anal canal and is more commonly referred to as bowel cancer [1]. Most bowel cancers are thought to develop from non-malignant growths on the lining of the wall of the bowel. These non-malignant growths are called adenomas or polyps. While the causes of bowel cancer are not fully understood, there are a number of factors associated with the risk of developing the disease. These factors include: increasing age; a personal history of bowel cancer or polyp; a family history of bowel cancer, adenoma or gynaecological cancer; and a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease [1].

In 2012, bowel cancer was estimated to account for 13% of the burden of disease due to cancer in men, and 12% of the burden of disease due to cancer in women in Australia [2].

Age-standardised mortality rates for colorectal cancer increased from 1968 (31.1 per 100,000 population) to 1985 (32.8 per 100,000 population ), after which they decreased to 18.7 per 100,000 in 2016 [3]. The trends were similar for males and females, although the male rate in 2016 was 47.4% higher than the female rate [3].

For 2016 to 2020, 46.4% of all deaths from colorectal cancer were premature – details here.


  1. National Cancer Institute (NCI). Colon cancer treatment (PDQ) – patient version [Internet]. Available from:; last accessed 18 October 2013.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries (AACR). Cancer in Australia 2010: an overview. Cancer series no. 60. (AIHW Cat. no. CAN 56). Canberra: AIHW; 2010.
  3. Cancer mortality, National Cancer Control Indicators. Available from:
  4. ; last accessed 23 March 2022.

Notes:  International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes: C18-C20, C26.0

For deaths data released since 2007, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (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.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Deaths from colorectal cancer at ages 0 to 74 years


Detail of analysis:  Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate per 100,000 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 ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP) for Australia, 30 June 2016 to 30 June 2020.


© PHIDU, Torrens University Australia This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence.