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Understanding breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women. In 2019, it is estimated that 19,371 women and 164 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.[i]

This means that approximately 19,535 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019,[ii] an average of 53 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 675 for men.[iv]
  • The average age of first diagnosis of breast cancer for women is 61 years.[v]
  • 79 per cent of new cases of breast cancer in women develop over the age of 50.[vi]
  • 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 [vii].

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

 breast-cancer-incidence-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 – 2019.

More information

References

[i] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018 Cancer Data in Australia; Canberra: AIHW.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018 Cancer compendium: information and trends by cancer type, Canberra: AIHW.

[vi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Cancer in Australia 2017: Supplementary tables. Chapter 3: Incidence of Cancer, Canberra: AIHW

[vii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018 Cancer Data in Australia; Canberra: AIHW. 

[viii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Cancer in Australia 2017: Supplementary tables. Chapter 3: Incidence of Cancer, Canberra: AIHW.