Women's cancers

This year, nearly 16,700 women in Victoria will be diagnosed with cancer, and around 5,200 will die from the disease. More than 6,500 Victorian women will be diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancer.

However, thanks to wonderful generosity like yours, the rate of women dying from cancer is declining. Since 1982, the rate has been consistently decreasing by 1.3% per year. 

By living a healthy lifestyle and participating in recommended screening programs, women can significantly reduce their risk of developing cancer and increase their chances of discovering it early.


Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common new cancer in Victorian women.

Five-year survival rates for breast cancer have increased to 91% – from 73% twenty years ago.

Most changes in the breast (in fact 9 out of 10) aren't due to breast cancer. But if you do notice a change, it's important to get it checked by a doctor.

A mammogram is the best way to catch breast cancer early. Early detection of breast cancer means treatment has a much better chance of success.

Three simple steps that could save your life:

  1. Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts.
  2. See a doctor if you notice any unusual breast changes.
  3. If you're aged 50 to 74, have a free mammogram at BreastScreen every 2 years.

Currently only around 46% of eligible Victorian women, trans and gender diverse people aged 50-74 participate in the breast screening program.


Gynaecological cancers

Gynaecological cancers include cancers of the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovary, placenta, uterus (endometrium), vagina and vulva.

In 2021, 1,659 Victorian women were diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer and 551 women died from a gynaecological cancer.


Cervical cancer

Most people (over 70%) who develop cervical cancer in Australia are either overdue for or have never had a Cervical Screening Test.

Regular Cervical Screening Tests can prevent around 90% of cervical cancers, but currently only around 69.0% of Victorians women and people with a cervix are up to date with their screening. 

All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 74 who've ever been sexually active should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years, even if they have been vaccinated against HPV. This gives you the best protection against developing cervical cancer. 

Did you know that you can now take your own cervical screening sample? The test is quick, easy, private and reliable.? Anyone who is eligible for cervical screening can choose the self-collection option for their next Cervical Screening Test. Find out more here


Find a cervical screening provider


Anyone with symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain should see their health care professional immediately, regardless of when they were last screened.


Our research

In the past decade, people like you have helped us fund over $1.2 million into research at Victorian-based laboratories looking at new approaches to prevention, detection and treatment of gynaecological cancers. 

Our research initiatives, along with improvements to the National Cervical Screening Program and HPV immunisation program, have resulted in cervical cancer being set to be eliminated in Victoria by 2030. 

This year we are funding 14 research grant projects. In addition to behavioural science and epidemiological studies carried out by our in-house researchers, Council Victoria also funds the best and brightest research teams across the state.

We’ve also spent more than $12.3 million on breast cancer research in the past decade, leading to improved early detection methods and treatment options. 

In a worldwide breakthrough in 2017, our very own epidemiologists helped find new genetic variants to explain why women with a family history have a higher risk of breast cancer. Working with 300 different institutions across six continents, researchers found 72 new genetic variants that predict the risk of developing breast cancer. The findings will help inform improved risk prediction, both for the general population and for BRCA1 mutation carriers.

Amanda's story

"By 2035, if all women do their screening and have their HPV vaccines, cervical cancer will be eliminated in Australia. How fantastic is that? Not only because it’s touched me, but for my daughter to not have to go through what I went through."

Cervical cancer survivor