Priority 1: Prevention of cancers

Preventing cancer is one of the most effective ways to address inequities and achieve our vision of ending cancers as we know them.


Prevention of cancers

Support people to reduce their cancer risk


Our actions for the next five years

Our actions for the next five years
# Action


Improve people’s ability to understand and engage with prevention, screening and cancer care services and information, and reduce fear, stigma and shame among Aboriginal and multicultural communities.


Target evidence-based prevention efforts in areas with the greatest need and demonstrated impact, including helping people to not take up smoking, quit smoking, protect their skin from ultraviolet radiation and reduce alcohol consumption.


Use new technologies and innovations, such as digital services, to support people to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours and reduce their risk of cancer.


Strengthen broad public health prevention collaborations and partnerships at all levels across public, private and non-government sectors.

In Australia approximately 16,700 cancer deaths and 41,200 cancer cases each year could be prevented through lifestyle changes.6

A number of healthy lifestyle behaviours can lower the risk of getting cancer. These include avoiding or stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, reducing sun exposure, healthy eating and increasing physical activity. Some cancers that are linked with viruses like human papillomavirus (HPV) or hepatitis B can also be prevented through vaccination.

These behaviours are influenced by the social determinants of health – that is, the conditions in which people are born, educated, work, live and age. Therefore, a public health approach to cancer prevention, thinking about individuals and the environments that they live in, is essential to make the greatest impact.

Many risk factors for cancer are also linked to other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and respiratory diseases, making a strong case for including cancer in broader chronic disease partnerships.

Prevention also includes secondary prevention of cancers. This is detecting and treating cancers as soon as possible through screening and regular tests, and encouraging personal strategies to reduce the impact of cancers and prevent recurrence.

Putting the principles into practice

Examples may include:

For equity of outcomes, enabling community leaders to deliver cancer prevention information and support within their own communities, for example Aboriginal Health Workers.

For person-centredness, providing support services that provide tailored information and support to help people improve their health.

For collaboration, working with the education sector to include cancer-prevention messages into education curricula and learning.


Our communities are really fearful of cancer … we think it’s going to take us overnight – you get diagnosed and that’s it. What we need is better education about cancer in the community, so that people know what it is, what you can do to reduce your chance of getting it, and how important it is to have those conversations with your doctorAboriginal community member share block quote


What success looks like


For the health system

All people in NSW live in healthy environments and are supported and empowered to make evidence-informed decisions and behaviour changes that reduce their risk of cancers.

For people at risk of or affected by cancer, their families, and carers

I know what I can do to reduce my chance of getting cancer, and I know where I can go and who I can talk to if I have questions.