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.”[1] 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.


[1] Australia’s health 2014