Western Australia

Significant improvement in breast cancer survival rates

Relative cancer survival rates among Western Australians have increased significantly over the past 25 years, according to a new report – The Cancer Effect: Breast Cancer Relative Survival 1985-2014.

The report, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, found that the five-year relative survival for breast cancer in Western Australians increased to 91.5 per cent in the period of 2010-14, up from 74.4 per cent for 1985-89.

The increase in relative survival rates is likely attributable to a combination of early detection and screening, and improvements in treatment therapies.

Breast cancer in females had the third highest survival rate of all cancers in females in Western Australia between 2010 and 2014. However, breast cancer reported the highest incidence rate with 7,797 new cases, more than double the second largest cancer type – colorectal cancer.

The report found that middle aged (40-64 years old) women have the highest survival rate, with the greatest improvements over time being observed four and five years after diagnosis.

Women over the age of 40 can access a free Breastscreen mammogram every two years, and they are highly recommended for women who are 50-74 years old.

Early detection of breast cancer via mammograms can significantly improve chances of survival, as mammograms can identify lumps as small as a grain of rice.

Preliminary results from a national collaborative project with Cancer Australia found that crude survival rates for patients diagnosed with Stage 1 to 3 cancer were very high at 99, 92, and 82 per cent respectively, however, outcomes for Stage 4 disease were poorer at 32 per cent.

The Cancer Effect: Breast Cancer Relative Survival 1985-2014 report is the second in a series of publications produced by the WA Cancer Registry in conjunction with the Department of Health Epidemiology Branch.

The information will be used for monitoring changes in survival to ensure that research into the control, diagnosis and treatment of cancers is translated into improved outcomes for patients.

Source: WA Government