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Understanding breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women. In 2020 it is estimated that 19,998 women and 170 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.[i]

This means that approximately 20,168 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020,[ii] an average of 55 people every day. 

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 08 January 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia

[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.