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Understanding breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women.

In 2021, it is projected that 20,030 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer, including 19,866 women and 164 men. An average of 55 people per 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 2013-2017 was 91.5 per cent.(i) 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 2021, approximately 81 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 91.5 per cent in 2013-2017.[i]

The graph below shows the projected incidence of breast cancer by age for Australian women in 2021 (the latest year for which these figures are available).[vii]

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2021. Cancer Data in Australia; Canberra: AIHW.

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

More information


[i] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021 Cancer data in Australia. Cat. no. CAN 122. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 29 June 2021; 

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2021. Cancer Data in Australia; Canberra: AIHW.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.