Women’s Health Data: Morbidity and mortality
Morbidity and mortality includes information on the incidence of death and disease for selected common illnesses experienced by Australian women. This summary focuses on cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. National screening programs for breast and cervical cancer engage women from diverse groups with varying success.
Need data on a different topic? Check out our Women's Health Data archive.
Heart disease (140 deaths per 100,000 females) and cancers (137 deaths per 100,000 females) are responsible for most female deaths1.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer causing death in Australian women. Breast cancer, bowel cancer, and pancreatic cancers are the next most common causes of cancer death in women2.
In Australia there are 771 new cases of cervical cancer in per annum and 232 deaths from cervical cancer per annum3.
4.1% of Victorian women have ever been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, 0.5% have ever been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and 2.0% have ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes4.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) affects about 5% of pregnancies5.
Australian males are nearly one and a half times more likely to die from diabetes than Australian females6.
Breast cancer, depression and diabetes have the highest burden of disease (measured in Disability Adjusted Life Years or DALYs) for women aged 35 to 64 years7.
Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 54,664 DALYs in females7.
While coronary heart disease has been the leading cause of death for both sexes since 1979, death rates have decreased 69% for women in the past 30 years8.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
Indigenous women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2003 and 2007 had twice the risk of dying from any cause by 2010 than non-Indigenous women9.
Indigenous women have lower participation in breast cancer screening (36%) than non-Indigenous women (54%)9.
Indigenous women are 2.8 times more likely to develop, and 3.9 times more likely to die, from cervical cancer. They also have a lower chance of surviving 5 years than non-Indigenous women (51% compared with 67%)9.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are four times more likely to have diabetes than non-Aboriginal women10.
The most common types of health conditions reported by Indigenous women are eye/sight problems (54%), back pain/symptoms (23%), heart/circulatory disease (23%) and asthma (22%)10.
Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
Women who speak a language other than English at home are less likely to participate in breast screening than women who speak English at home (47.3% and 55.8% respectively)11.
Women born in Polynesia, Southern Asia, the Middle East and other Asian countries are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, and are at greater risk of gestational diabetes mellitus than other Australian women5
Women born overseas have nearly twice the incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus as women born in Australia12.
Women with disabilities
15% of women with an intellectual disability have had a Pap test in the past two years, much lower than the Pap screening rate for women from the general Victorian population (71%)13.
More than half (55%) of Victorian women with an intellectual disability have had a mammogram in the past two years, lower than the breast screening rate for women from the general population (76%)13.
Women with an intellectual disability are more likely to have experienced diabetes screening (65%) compared with women from the general Victorian population (40%)13.
Same-sex attracted women
Same-sex attracted women are less likely to have regular Pap tests than heterosexual women14.
Same-sex attracted women access other forms of health screening less frequently, delay treatment and are less likely to have a regular general practitioner than heterosexual women14.
- Council of Australian Government Reform Council, Tracking equity: Comparing outcomes for women and girls across Australia. Sydney, Council of Australian Government, 2013 [cited 20 November 2013] Available from: http://www.coagreformcouncil.gov.au/reports/gender-equity/tracking-equity-comparing-outcomes-women-and-girls-across-australia ↩
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer in Australia 2012: an overview. Cancer series no. 60. Cat. no. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW, 2012 [cited 21 February 2014] Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129542359 ↩
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cervical screening in Australia 2010-2011. Cat. no. CAN 72. Canberra: AIHW, 2010 [cited 15 December 2013] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129543402 ↩
- Victoria. Department of Health. Victorian Population Health Survey 2010. Melbourne: Department of Health, 2012 [cited on 20 November 2013] Available from: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/healthstatus/survey/vphs2010.htm ↩
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Diabetes in pregnancy: its impact on Australian women and their babies. Diabetes series no. 14. Cat. no. CVD 52. Canberra: AIHW, 2010. [cited 2 October 2013] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442472448 ↩
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Diabetes: Australian facts 2008. Cat. no. CVD 40. Canberra: AIHW, 2008.[cited 27 November 2013] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468075 ↩
- Victoria. Department of Health. Victorian burden of disease study: mortality and morbidity in 2001. Melbourne: Department of Health, 2005 [cited 20 November 2013] Available from: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/healthstatus/bodvic/bod_current.htm ↩
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s Health 2012: The thirteenth biennial health report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2013 [cited 20 November 2013] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737422172 ↩
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer Australia 2013. Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia: an overview. Cancer series 78. Cat. no. CAN 75. Canberra: AIHW. [cited 30 October 2013] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129544700 ↩
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: A snapshot, 2004-05. Cat. No. 4722.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS; 2007 [cited 4 September 2013] Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4722.0.55.001Main+Features12004-05?OpenDocument ↩
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2010-2011. Cancer series no. 74. Canberra: AIHW; 2013 [cited 21 February 2014] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129544882 ↩
- Templeton M & Pieris-Caldwell I. Gestational diabetes mellitus in Australia, 2005–06. Diabetes series no. 10. Cat. no. CVD 44. Canberra: AIHW; 2008 [cited 2 October 2013] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468189 ↩
- Victoria. Department of Health. Health of Victorian women with an intellectual disability. Melbourne: Department of Health; 2011 [cited 20 November 2013] Available from: http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/Health-of-Victorian-women-with-an-intellectual-disability ↩
- Bailey J., Farquhar C., Owen C. & Whittaker D. Sexual behaviour of lesbians and bisexual women. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2003; 79 (2): 147-50. ↩
Published: February 2014
Feedback and subscription
We value your feedback.
Please tell us what you think of this resource. Click here to take a brief online survey
Please Contact Us with any feedback
Has a colleague forwarded this e-bulletin to you?
For your own subscription, complete an online Subscribe Request.
To unsubscribe from this e-bulletin please complete an online Unsubscribe Request.