October is also Breast Cancer Month

October is internationally known as Breast Cancer Month and Pink Ribbon Day is Monday 25 October.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in Australian women, accounting for more than 13,698 new cases of breast cancer and 2,800 deaths each year. Early detection is the best method for reducing deaths from breast cancer.

Women whose cancer is still contained in the breast when diagnosed have a 90% chance of surviving five years, compared with a 20% five-year survival chance when the cancer has spread at diagnosis.

The incidence of breast cancer is increasing, but with continued support and funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, improvements in research mean survival rate is on the rise.


  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Australia, with more than 13,600 new cases expected this year – new diagnoses are also expected in 106 men
  • More than 2,800 women will die from the disease in a single year – making it one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in females
  • One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85
  • Getting older is the most common risk factor: about 13% of new cases are among women aged 20-44, 61% in women aged 45-69 and 26% among women over 70. Women of all ages need to understand the importance of finding and treating breast cancer early
  • Despite the significant loss of life, survival prospects continue to improve. Over 96% of women will survive at least one year after diagnosis, and almost 87% will survive five years or more – a 15% increase since the 1980s
  • Survival is improving due to better detection and improved treatments which are the result of excellent research
  • Breast cancer survivors can experience a range of difficulties, ranging from physical limitations to psychosocial problems. These issues are now emerging as new targets for researchers.
Statistics from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & National Breast Cancer Centre 2006. Breast cancer in Australia: an overview, 2006. Cancer series no. 34. cat. no. CAN 29. Canberra: AIHW