The aim of the present study was to investigate whether 5-year survival of patients with breast cancer in Western Australia has improved over time. We used a population-based study conducted in the State of Western Australia, to identify all cases of invasive breast cancer cases diagnosed in 1989, 1994 and 1999. Information on presentation, investigation and management was extracted from medical records of each case and status at 5 years after date of diagnosis was determined. Comparison of 5-year overall survival for women diagnosed in the three calendar years, and hazard ratios for survival calculated for prognostic variables were measured. We found that survival from breast cancer has improved in Western Australia since 1989. Earlier diagnosis, living in the Perth metropolitan area and use of breast-conserving surgery are associated with better survival, irrespective of year of diagnosis. Further research needs to be carried out to determine the reason for this improvement. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.