What you need to know
From the basic biology of the breast to knowing your risk, and checking for symptoms, it’s important to be informed about breast cancer.
Women and men who check for changes in their breasts are able to be diagnosed early, which provide the best hope of treatment getting rid of all the cancer from the breast so they live longer.
A diagnosis of breast cancer is an understandably stressful and emotional time for everyone involved, and there is a lot of new information to absorb. This section provides useful information on symptoms, detection and risk factors as an easy reference point for anyone thinking about breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Australia (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).
- One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
- On average, eight women die from breast cancer every day in Australia.
- There are more than 60,000 people living with breast cancer in Australia today.
- In 2020, 17,210 women (an average of 47 women every day) are projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia, although mortality is predicted to continuously decline.
- Increasing age is one of the strongest risk factors for developing breast cancer.
- More than two in three cases of breast cancer occur in women aged between 40 and 69 years.
- Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer have an 89.6% chance of surviving five years after diagnosis.
- Breast cancer spreading to other organs (metastasis) is the main cause of death from breast cancer. Once breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is thought that the number of women surviving five years is only around one-in-five.
- More women are surviving breast cancer. In 1994 when NBCF was established, around 76 of every 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer were still alive five years after diagnosis. Today, 90 out of every hundred are still living.
- Improvements in survival are attributed to earlier detection of breast cancer through regular mammograms and improved treatment outcomes for breast cancer.
- Although rare, breast cancer can also affect men, accounting for about 1% of cases. Around 140 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia each year.