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More than 18,000 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and the number is growing each year, says lobby group Breast Cancer Network Australia.

For the first time since the early 1980s, breast cancer will be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2018, reports the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Globally, the number is closer to 200,000 new cases per year while the cost of treatment is expected to pass $17 billion in the next three years.

The disease is in the media spotlight right now as part of breast cancer awareness month.

There’s been some good news of late, with the Federal Government last week committing nearly $700,000 in funding for improved breast screening procedures.

There are at least ten ASX-listed health and biotech stocks focused on the disease.

>> Scroll down for a table of ASX stocks working on breast cancer solutions

Volpara Solutions (ASX:VHT) operates at ground zero, providing of breast imaging analytics and analysis products aimed at improving the early-stage detection of breast cancer.

It has enterprise software and density tests added on after mammograms have taken place for quicker and more accurate cancer detection.

The company’s founder, Sir Mike Brady, told Stockhead earlier this year that machine learning was playing a big part in the rapid development of Volpara’s technology.

Volpara’s share price is up 93 per cent over the past year, to $1.18 late on Friday — an all-time high for the company. It even rose 14 per cent today on the funding news to an intraday high of $1.21.

Volpara shares (ASX:VHT) are at an all-time high.

David Langsam, editor of leading biotech publication Biotech Daily, names Volpara as a company that ASX investors should watch.

“Volpara is making money and when you hear its chief Ralph Highnam talk presenting about its standardisation technology, it is just brilliant and a really big step for breast cancer,” he told Stockhead.

Another medical devices play, Polynovo (ASX:PNV), has also enjoyed a swell year on the ASX; its shares are up 104 per cent over the past year, hitting 57c on Friday.

The $372 million company’s product suite includes novel wound dressing as well as in-development orthopaedics and hernia repair treatments. In April, it also announced a development program for a breast reconstruction device.

Aside from devices, Mr Langsam says the interest is companies with ongoing treatment trials.

“The ones I find really interesting and need to be followed closely are the ones with treatments, like Immutep (ASX:IMM), Patrys (ASX:PAB) and Prescient (ASX:PTX),” he said.

“Prescient have trials underway, Patrys are currently in pre-clinical trials and Immutep might be the first company into Phase III trials.”

Immutep is in late-stage trials for the treatment of advanced breast cancer in Europe, Patrys’ PAT-DX1 drug has been proven to work in pre-clinical trials of triple negative breast cancer and in April this year Prescient said it had cured two women of breast cancer in a Phase I trial.

Patrys is the best-performing biotech exposed to breast cancer over the past year, with its shares up 171 per cent. Immutep, likewise, are up 104 per cent year-on-year, and Prescient are also up, though a more modest 32pc.

Here’s a table of ASX stocks working on breast cancer solutions:

Swipe or scroll to reveal table. Click headings to sort:

ASX codeCompanySix-month price change12-month price changeLast priceMarket cap
ZLDZelda Therapeutics-0.33-0.17c51.4M
VHTVolpara Solutions0.540.93$1.18189.9M
PTXPrescient Therapeutics-0.340.327.9c16.5M
PNVPolynovo0.121.0457c371.8M
PABPatrys-0.121.713.8c39.6M
IMMImmutep1.321.045.1c154.0M
IBXImagion Biosystems-0.3-0.65c14.4M
GTGGenetic Technologies0.20.51.2c30.5M
BD1BARD1 Life Sciences-0.310.381.1c9.1M
AXPAirXpanders-0.72-0.849.8c58.5M