\( \newcommand{\bm}[1]{\boldsymbol{#1}} \)


Suggested Citation

Duncan, E. W., S. M. Cramb, P. D. Baade, K. L. Mengersen, T. Saunders, and J. F. Aitken. 2024. Developing a Cancer Atlas using Bayesian Methods: A Practical Guide for Application and Interpretation, 2nd ed. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Cancer Council Queensland.

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics
ACA Australian Cancer Atlas
BIC Bayesian information criterion
BYM a model named after the authors Besag, York, and Molli\'e
CAR conditional autoregressive
CI credible interval
CRAN Comprehensive R Archive Network
DAG directed acyclic graph
DCO death certificate only
DIC deviance information criterion
EHR excess hazard ratio
ERP estimated residential population
ESS effective sample size
GLM generalised linear model
i.i.d. independent and identically distributed
ICAR intrinsic conditional autoregressive [model]
INLA integrated nested Laplace approximation
IRSAD index of relative socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage
LPPD log pointwise predictive density
MCMC Markov chain Monte Carlo
PPD posterior probability difference
SA2 statistical area level 2
SIR standardised incidence ratio
SLA statistical local area
SRE spatial random effect
WAIC Watanabe-Akaike (or widely applicable) information criterion
WSSP weighted sum of spatial priors

Author Affiliations

Earl Duncan is a data scientist at the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC) and formerly a post-doc researcher in the School of Mathematics, Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Susanna Cramb is a Principal Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation (AusHSI), School of Public Health & Social Work, Queensland University of Technology. Susanna was formerly a spatial modeller at Cancer Council Queensland when this work was initially presented to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Peter Baade is Senior Manager, Population Epidemiology at Cancer Council Queensland and Adjunct Professor at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University.

Kerrie Mengersen is an Australian Laureate Fellow and Distinguished Professor of Statistics at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science.

Thom Saunders is a senior user experience designer at the Visualisation and eResearch (ViseR) group, Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Joanne Aitken was formerly the Director of the Viertel Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Council Queensland, and Adjunct Professor at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and University of Southern Queensland.

Affiliation Links:


The authors would like to thank the many members of the Australian Cancer Atlas project team who contributed to this eBook, and the advice provided by the Project Advisory Team. We also appreciated the support of the individual state- and territory-based cancer registries, the Australasian Association of Cancer Registries, and Cancer Council Australia for this project. We acknowledge the expertise provided by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS)

The authors would also like to thank Jess Cameron, a Research Fellow at Cancer Council Queensland, for proofreading and providing feedback on earlier versions of this eBook

Changes to this Edition

The changes to the previous edition (v1.0.1) are as follows:

  • Use of simple features (sf) objects rather than the older SpatialPolygons and SpatialPolygonsDataFrame objects. The sf package replaces the rgeos , rgdal, and maptools packages which were deprecated at the end of 2023. The modern simple features make working with spatially indexed data much easier, both in terms of data manipulation and data visualisation. As a result, the R code used to produce maps has been greatly simplified.
  • The shapefile in Chapter 7 has been updated to ASGS 2021.
    • An alternative way to obtain the spatial data via the absmapsdata package is provided.
  • R code has been revised to make greater use of dplyr functions and piping.
  • All WinBUGS examples (Chapter 8, Section 9.9.5, and Appendix A.3) have been updated to OpenBUGS.
  • Added details of the colour specifications and scales for the final version of the legend used in the Australian Cancer Atlas in Section 11.3.4.
  • Fixed broken URLs due to link rot.
  • Minor changes to the text to address typographical errors and to reflect changes to the code.


This eBook is maintained by the authors and may be updated periodically to add new content or make corrections. If you notice any errors, particularly with the code, or have any general enquiries, please contact the first author at .