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Know the risks: Australia’s most common cancers in men and women

17 July, 2019
A woman looking at the sea

Australia sure is a great country to live in, but unfortunately, we’re not exempt from the heartache of cancer. About half of us will receive a cancer diagnosis within our lifetime. While initiatives like CommBank’s Can4Cancer have helped fund promising cancer research breakthroughs, it’s important we protect ourselves while we wait for more prevention tactics and of course a cure. By knowing the facts about our country’s most prevalent cancers, you’re giving yourself the best chance of survival.

What are our most common cancers?

  1. 1. Prostate
  2. 2. Bowel (colorectal)
  3. 3. Melanoma
  4. 4. Lung
  5. 5. Head and neck
  1. 1. Breast
  2. 2. Bowel (colorectal)
  3. 3. Melanoma
  4. 4. Lung
  5. 5. Uterine


Be cancer-smart about the common cancers

Breast cancer
Researchers recommend limiting your alcohol intake to less than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk. Also, physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking all help efforts to reduce your risk of breast cancer. See more on reducing your breast cancer risk .

Prostate cancer
Ageing and family history are both key risk factors in prostate cancer. Aside from maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle, speak to your GP if you have a family history or any symptoms such as difficulty passing urine. Your GP will advise you on screening procedures.

Bowel cancer
Being physically active can reduce your colorectal cancer risk by 75%. Dietary changes including increasing your wholegrains to three serves a day and dairy products to 400g per day decreases your risk. Also, keeping your red meat intake to 500 grams (when cooked) per week and avoiding processed meat where possible can protect against bowel cancer.

The best way to protect yourself and your whole family from melanoma is to be sun-smart! Use shade, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and sun-protective clothing to prevent exposure to the harsh Aussie sun. See detailed guidelines on these five skin-saving methods.

Lung cancer
Most of us know that smoking causes lung cancer, but did you know that it’s never too late to quit? Some CBHS Extras or packaged covers cover quit smoking programs. Please contact to find out if you’re eligible.

Head and neck cancers
The Cancer Council Australia say that the risk of head and neck cancers can be reduced by not smoking and cutting back on alcohol use. If you smoke or chew tobacco, quitting is your best option.

Being over 50 is among the risk factors for uterine cancer, but right now there are no specific ways to prevent this cancer type aside from living a healthy lifestyle in general and keeping your weight in check. To help in early detection, be aware of any unusual vaginal bleeding – the most common symptom  – and see a GP if you experience this.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer yet, being aware of the risk factors and common prevention tactics can help place you in the best position to stay cancer-free. And, we can’t stress enough, if you do suspect something is not right with your body, please see your GP. Early detection gives you the best chance of successful treatment.

CBHS is proud to partner with CommBank as the exclusive Health & Wellbeing Partner for Can4Cancer 2019. Follow us on Facebook for more cancer-smart tips.


All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner.

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