Only three per cent of Australian patients wait longer than 45 days, according to a Health Performance Authority report released on Thursday.
Australia does not have a benchmark for waiting times, but doctors agree excessive delays give cancer time to spread.
The report covers 12,699 planned operations at public hospitals in 2011/12.
It shows 1090 patients waited longer than 30 days and 382 of these waited longer than 45.
A small group of hospitals was responsible for most of the delays.
For breast cancer, the hospitals with the lowest percentage of patients receiving surgery within 30 days were Nambour in Queensland and Calvary Mater in NSW.
For bowel cancer, the underperforming hospitals were Fremantle in WA, Princess Alexandra in Queensland and Calvary Mater.
For lung cancer, the underperformers were Liverpool Hospital in NSW and Princess Alexandra.
One per cent of breast cancer patients waited longer than 30 days, followed by 11 per cent for lung cancer and 13 per cent for bowel cancer.
Median waiting times did not vary significantly between metropolitan and regional hospitals.
Bowel Cancer Australia said the report was reassuring, but the goal was for all surgery to be done within 30 days.
Shorter hospital waiting times could contribute to better survival rates, chief executive Julien Wiggins said.
“It is interesting that major regional hospitals have similar waiting times to major metropolitan hospitals. This is reassuring for people in those communities who often face greater challenges accessing health services,” Mr Wiggins said.
Consumer group Cancer Voices Australia said the report was valuable for patients, their medical advisers and service planners.
But spokesperson Sally Crossing said Australia needed to benchmark optimum waiting times as had been done elsewhere, including in the UK and Canada.