Breast Cancer Statistics

Breast Cancer Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that by the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women worldwide who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years. These facts make breast cancer the most prevalent cancer in the world. 

Incidence of Breast Cancer 

The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2021 are: 

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. 
  • About 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year. 
  • About 49,290 new cases of non-invasive cases will be diagnosed this year.  
  • About 43,600 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. (Only lung cancer kills more women each year.) 
  • The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 39 (about 2.6%).
  • About 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2021. 
  • 530 men will die of breast cancer this year.
  • In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in Black women than white women. Overall, Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower. Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk of breast cancer because of a higher rate of BRCA mutation.
  • Decreases in breast cancer mortality are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments.
  • An estimated 20% to 30% of women diagnosed, treated, and declared free of disease for local or regional invasive breast cancer will have a recurrence.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • The WHO reports that in 2021 breast cancer became the most common cancer globally, accounting for 12% of all new annual cancer cases worldwide.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors 

Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to two main factors – being female and growing older.  According to the CDC, there are a number of risk factors that women have no control over.  

  • Getting older.  Breast cancer incidence increases after age 50. 
  • Genetic mutations. Inherited changes (mutations) to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.  
  • Reproductive history. Early menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55 expose women to hormones longer, raising their risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Having dense breasts. Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram. 
  • Personal history of breast cancer or certain non-cancerous breast diseases. Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second time. 
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer. A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Previous treatment using radiation therapy. Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts (for instance, treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma) before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
  • Women who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was given to some pregnant women in the United States between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, have a higher risk. Women whose mothers took DES while pregnant with them are also at risk.

Factors that increase Breast Cancer Risk  

  • Physical inactivity 
  • Excessive weight or obesity after menopause, especially when older.
  • Taking hormones like hormone replacement therapy (those that include both estrogen and progesterone) during menopause or using oral contraceptives (birth control pills).
  • Reproductive history like having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
  • Drinking alcohol

Male Breast Cancer Risks  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are also risk factors for male breast cancer.  

  • Getting older. The risk for breast cancer increases with age, especially age 50 plus.
  • Genetic mutations. Inherited changes (mutations) in certain genes. 
  • Family history of breast cancer. 
  • Radiation therapy treatment – especially in the chest area.
  • Hormone therapy treatment. Drugs containing estrogen (a hormone that helps develop and maintain female sex characteristics), which were used to treat prostate cancer in the past, increase men’s breast cancer risk.
  • Klinefelter syndrome - which is a rare genetic condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome. This can lead to the body making higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of androgens (hormones that help develop and maintain male sex characteristics).
  • Conditions that negatively impact the testicles. Injury to, swelling in, or surgery to remove the testicles can increase breast cancer risk.
  • Liver disease. Cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver can lower androgen levels and raise estrogen levels in men.
  • Excessive weight and obesity 

Breast Cancer Screening Statistics 

The Centers for Disease Control National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program reported significant changes in breast cancer screenings in the past two years. 

  • 87% decline in overall breast cancer screening in the past two years. 
  • Screening declines observed in the Early Detection Program coincided with the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in spring 2020.
  • Geographically, the number of screening tests for breast cancer declined 86% in metro areas, 88% in urban areas, and 89% in rural areas compared to the previous five-year averages.
  • Hispanic women experienced an 84% decline in breast cancer screening over the past two years.
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native women had 98% decline in breast cancer screening over the past two years or since the start of Coronavirus pandemic.

Survival Rates for Breast Cancer

The American Cancer society reports that there has been a reduction of mortality from breast cancer over the past 30 years. The prognosis for survival of breast cancer depends upon a number of factors, the stage of the disease, length of time with the disease and even ethnic background of the person with the disease. For instance, in 2021, despite a similar incidence, mortality from breast cancer among Black women is 40% higher compared with white women. 

Current Treatment Strategies for Breast Cancer 

  • Surgery (Mastectomy & Lumpectomy)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Hormonal Therapy
  • Targeted Therapy

Recommended Preventive Measures 

  • Know your risk factors
  • Screening with Yearly Mammograms starting at age 45 – younger if higher risk
  • Healthy lifestyle – food choices, weight, drug and medicines, breastfeeding, etc

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