Prevalence is “the number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time. In relation to cancer, prevalence refers to the number of people alive who had been diagnosed with cancer.” This is different to incidence, which refers tot he number of new cases diagnosed in a specific time period.
The prevalence of a condition is used to determine the number of people affected by the health issue. The higher the prevalence the greater the health issue, which may then be identified as a priority health issue in Australia.
There are many current conditions that are high in prevalence and have become priority health issues. These include:
- Cardiovascular disease – has been a priority health issue for a long time in Australia and will continue to be long into our future.
- Cancers – have been a growing priority in Australia, although the decreased smoking rate is helping.
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – affect many Australians today, particularly the elderly.
- Diabetes – is not only prevalent in Australia, but has an increasing incidence, making it a very high priority issue for Australia’s health.
- Cerebrovascular disease – like cardiovascular disease continues to be a major health issue and has similar underlying causes as cardiovascular disease.
 Australia’s health 2014