Breast cancer and breast screening

Breast screening saves lives by finding breast cancers early when they’re more easily treated.

Breast cancer in Australia

The BreastScreen Australia program started in 1991. Since then, deaths from breast cancer for women aged 50 to 74 have fallen from 68 to less than 45 out of every 100,000 women each year.

Trend in breast cancer deaths for Queensland women aged 50 to 74 years, total number of women who died for every 100,000 women, 1990 to 2017

Trends in breast cancer deaths bar chart

Source: Cancer Alliance Queensland

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is abnormal cell growth that occurs in breast tissue. There are different types of breast cancer — some that are slow growing and some that grow fast.

Treatment depends on the type of breast cancer. It’s not possible to tell which breast cancers will become life threatening if left untreated so all women diagnosed with breast cancer are offered treatment.

How common is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in females in Australia. One out of every 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Most common types of cancer in Australian women, total number of women diagnosed with each cancer, 2020

Most common types of cancer in Australian women bar chart

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Breast cancer is the 6th most common cause of death for Australian women.

Leading causes of death for Australian women, total number of women who died from each condition, 2018

Leading causes of death for Australian women bar chart

* Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Last updated:June 2021