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Breast cancer in Australia

Breast cancer incorporates ICD-10 cancer code C50 (Malignant neoplasm of breast).


Estimated number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2017

17,730 = male icon 144 males + female icon 17,586 females


breast-percent-all-new-cases

Estimated % of all new cancer cases diagnosed in 2017

13%


Estimated number of deaths from breast cancer in 2017

3,114 = male icon 28 males + female icon 3,087 females


breast-percent-all-deaths

Estimated % of all deaths from cancer in 2017

6.5%


90-in-100

Chance of surviving at least 5 years (2009–2013)

90%


crowd

People living with breast cancer at the end of 2012 (diagnosed in the 5 year period 2008 to 2012)

65,976


New cases of breast cancer

Breast cancer was the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2013. During 2013, it was also the most commonly diagnosed cancer in females. It is estimated that it will become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2017 among both persons and females (Table 1). This is because the incidence of prostate cancer (which was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2013) is expected to continue to decline.

In 2013, there were 16,045 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Australia (142 males and 15,902 females). In 2017, it is estimated that 17,730 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (144 males and 17,586 females).

In 2013, the age–standardised incidence rate was 64 cases per 100,000 persons (1.1 for males and 123 for females). In 2017, it is estimated that the age–standardised incidence rate will be 64 cases per 100,000 persons (1.0 for males and 124 for females). For females, the incidence rate of breast cancer is expected to increase with age until age group 65–69, before decreasing, while for males the incidence rate is expected to remain steady across ages (Figure 1).

In 2017, it is estimated that the risk of an individual being diagnosed with breast cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 14 (1 in 715 males and 1 in 8 females).

The number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed increased from 5,371 in 1982 (61 males and 5,310 females) to 16,045 in 2013. Over the same period, the age–standardised incidence rate increased from 44 cases per 100,000 persons (1.2 for males and 81 for females) in 1982 to 64 cases per 100,000 persons in 2013 (Figure 2).

Table 1: Estimated most common cancers diagnosed in 2017
Cancer type New cases 2017 % of all new cancers 2017
Breast 17,730 13.2
Breast (among females) 17,586 28.4
Colorectal (bowel) 16,682 12.4
Prostate (among males) 16,665 23.1
Melanoma 13,941 10.4
Lung 12,434 9.3

Deaths from breast cancer

In 2014, breast cancer was the fourth leading cause of cancer death in Australia. During 2014, it was also the 2nd most common cause of death from cancer among females. It is estimated that it will remain the 4th most common cause of death from cancer in 2017 and the 2nd most common cause of death from cancer among females in 2017 (Table 2).

In 2014, there were 2,844 deaths from breast cancer in Australia (30 males and 2,814 females). In 2017, it is estimated that this will increase to 3,114 deaths (28 males and 3,087 females).

In 2014, the age–standardised mortality rate was 11 deaths per 100,000 persons (0.2 for males and 20 for females). In 2017, it is estimated that the age–standardised mortality rate will be 11 deaths per 100,000 persons (0.2 for males and 20 for females). The mortality rate of breast cancer will generally increase with age in females but remain steady across age groups for males (Figure 1).

In 2017, it is estimated that the risk of an individual dying from breast cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 76 (1 in 3,582 males and 1 in 41 females).

The number of deaths from breast cancer increased from 1,435 (19 males and 1,416 females) in 1968 to 2,844 in 2014. Over the same period, the age–standardised mortality rate decreased from 17 deaths per 100,000 persons (0.5 for males and 30 for females) in 1968 to 11 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2014 (Figure 2).

Table 2: Estimated most common cancers deaths in 2017
Cancer type Number of deaths 2017 % of all cancer deaths 2017
Lung 9,021 18.9
Colorectal (bowel) 4,114 8.6
Prostate (among males) 3,452 12.7
Breast 3,114 6.5
Breast (among females) 3,087 14.9
Pancreatic 2,915 6.1

Figure 1: Estimated age-specific incidence and mortality rates for breast cancer, by sex, 2017

This line chart presents the estimated age-specific incidence (solid line) and mortality (dashed line) rates of breast cancer for males (blue), females (purple) and persons (green) in 2017. The age-specific incidence and mortality rates are shown on the primary (left) y-axis, with 5-year age groups from ages 0–4 to 85+ shown on the x-axis.

Source: AIHW [1].

Figure 2: Age-standardised incidence rates for breast cancer 1982–2013 and age-standardised mortality rates for breast cancer 1968–2014, by sex

This line chart presents the estimated age-standardised incidence (solid line) and mortality (dashed line) rates (per 100,000) of breast cancer for males (blue), females (purple) and persons (green) over the period 1982–2013 for incidence and 1968–2014 for mortality. The age standardised incidence and mortality rates, expressed per 100,000 persons, are shown on the primary (left) y-axis. Years from 1968 to 2014 are presented on the x-axis.

Source: AIHW [2].

Survival from breast cancer

In 2009–2013 in Australia, individuals diagnosed with breast cancer had a 90% chance (85% for males and 90% for females) of surviving for 5 years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population.

Between 1984–1988 and 2009–2013, 5-year relative survival from breast cancer improved from 72% to 90% (Figure 3).

Figure 3: 5-year relative survival from breast cancer, 1983–1987 to 2008–2012

This line chart presents 5-year relative survival at diagnosis for breast cancer by males, females and persons over the period 1984–1988 to 2009–2013. The percentage of survival is presented on the y-axis.

Source: AIHW [1].

Survivorship population for breast cancer

The survivorship population is measured using prevalence data. Prevalence refers to the number of people alive who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The prevalence for 1, 5 and 31 years given below are the number of people living with breast cancer at the end of 2012 who had been diagnosed in the preceding 1, 5 and 31 years respectively.

At the end of 2012, there were 15,092 people living who had been diagnosed with breast cancer that year, 65,976 people who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous 5 years (from 2008 to 2012) and 193,730 people who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous 31 years (from 1982 to 2012).


Data notes

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD–10)

Cancer is classified by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems Version 10 (ICD–10). This is a statistical classification, published by the World Health Organization, in which each morbid condition is assigned a unique code according to established criteria.

Estimations

Future estimations for incidence and mortality are a mathematical extrapolation of past trends. They assume that the most recent trends will continue into the future, and are intended to illustrate future changes that might reasonably be expected to occur if the stated assumptions continue to apply over the estimated period. Actual future cancer incidence and mortality rates may vary from these estimations. For instance, new screening programs may increase the detection of new cancer cases; new vaccination programs may decrease the risk of developing cancer; and improvements in treatment options may decrease mortality rates.

Incidence

Cancer incidence indicates the number of new cancers diagnosed during a specified time period (usually one year).

The 2013 national incidence counts include estimates for NSW because the actual data were not available. Note that actual data for the Australian Capital Territory do not include cases identified from death certificates.

The 2017 estimates are based on 2004–13 incidence data. Due to rounding of these estimates, male and female incidence may not sum to person incidence.

Mortality

Cancer mortality refers to the number of deaths occurring during a specified time period (usually one year) for which the underlying cause of death is cancer.

The 2017 estimates are based on mortality data up to 2013. Joinpoint analysis was used on the longest time series of age–standardised rates available to determine the starting year of the most recent trend.

Prevalence

Prevalence of cancer refers to the number of people alive with a prior diagnosis of cancer at a given time. It is distinct from incidence, which is the number of new cancers diagnosed within a given period of time. The longest period for which it is possible to calculate prevalence using the available national data (from 1982 to 2012) is currently 31 years so this is used to provide an estimate of the ‘total’ prevalence of cancer as at the end of 2012, noting that people diagnosed with cancer before 1982 aren’t included.

Age standardised rates

Incidence and mortality rates expressed per 100,000 population are age–standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.


References

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books: Breast cancer. Canberra: AIHW. www.aihw.gov.au/acim–books [Accessed February 2017].
  2. AIHW 2017. Cancer in Australia 2017. Cancer series no. 101. Cat. No. CAN 100. Canberra: AIHW.