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Understanding breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women.

In 2021, it is predicted that 20,825 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer,[i] an average of 57 people every day.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, visit BCNA's My Journey online tool for up-to-date, reliable information tailored to your changing needs during your breast cancer experience.

My Journey online tool

It is important to remember that most people survive breast cancer. The latest statistics show that the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011-2015 was 90.8 per cent.[iii] Of course, many people live long and healthy lives well beyond this period.

A snapshot of breast cancer in Australia

  • The number of people being diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia is increasing; however the number of deaths from breast cancer is decreasing.
  • The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.
  • The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by age 85 is 1 in 7 for women and 1 in 670 for men.[iv]
  • The average age of first diagnosis of breast cancer for women is 62 years.
  • In 2020, approximately 80 per cent of new cases of breast cancer will develop in women aged 50 or above.[v]
  • The chance of surviving at least five years (five year relative survival) has increased from 74.0 per cent in 1986-1990 to 90.8 per cent in 2011-2015.[vi]

The graph below shows the projected incidence of breast cancer by age for Australian women in 2020 (the latest year for which these figures are available).[vii]

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Cancer data in Australia. Cat. no. CAN 122. Canberra: AIHW.

For more information download BCNA’s current breast cancer statistics in Australia.

More information

References

[i] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Cancer data in Australia. Cat. no. CAN 122. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 13 January 2020; Note - New cancer projections for 2021 are due to be by the Australian Institute for Health & Welfare in June 2021.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018 Cancer Data in Australia; Canberra: AIHW. <https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/>.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.