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Understanding breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women. In 2017, it is estimated that 17,586 women and 144 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

This means that approximately 17,730 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, an average of 48 people every day. 

It is important to remember that most people survive breast cancer. The latest statistics (2017) show that the five-year relative survival rate for people diagnosed with breast cancer is more than 90%. 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 8 for women and 1 in 631 for men.
  • The average age of first diagnosis of breast cancer is 61 years.
  • 78% of new cases of breast cancer in women develop over the age of 50.
  • The chance of surviving at least five years (five year relative survival) has increased from 72% in 1982-1987 to 90% in 2017.

The graph below shows the estimated incidence of breast cancer by age for Australian women in 2017.




Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Cancer in Australia 2017. Cancer series no.101. Cat. no. CAN 100. Canberra: AIHW.

For more information download BCNA’s current breast cancer statistics in Australia – 2017.

You can also view these statistics as an infographic (PDF) 

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