More than 14,500 Australian women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and that number is set to rise to more than 17,000 in the next eight years.
But despite that sobering statistic, Cancer Australia CEO Professor Helen Zorbas says Australia has one of the world's best survival rates from the disease.
"Just a generation ago ... only about 72 out of every 100 women were alive five years after their diagnoses. Now it's 89," Prof Zorbas told a Pink Ribbon Day breakfast in Sydney.
She told the audience, which included Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Governor-General Quentin Bryce, early detection is largely responsible for the increase in survival rates.
Prof Zorbas pointed to the national mammography screening program as a factor, together with increasing awareness of the disease and its symptoms.
She said concerns of the cancer's recurrence is a factor that affects survivors but pointed to recent research involving more than 10,000 women with the disease, indicating exercise may help prevent it returning.
"Even moderate physical activity was shown to reduce the risk of recurrence by 24 per cent and reduce the risk of dying by more than a third," she said.
Breast cancer survivor Sharon Cohrs, from Cairns, took this advice seriously by becoming the first breast cancer survivor to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.
Ms Cohrs told the breakfast not every survivor has to follow her example but all have dreams that can be followed after they've left the disease behind.
She says before she reached the summit she had already climbed Everest many times in her mind."Every time I would sit in that chemo chair I would close my eyes and I could feel the hold mountain air on my face ... I would then picture myself standing on top of the mountain with my arms out wide feeling pain-free ... and my sickness was gone."
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