Breast Cancer Statistics

At a Glance

Globally, breast cancer affects more women than any other type of cancer and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women.[1]

In the United States, breast cancer has the highest mortality rate of any cancer in women between the ages of 20 and 59. The American Cancer Society predicted that in 2016, about 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and 2,600 for men; and about 61,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women; with about 40,450 women and 440 men expected to die from breast cancer.[2] As of early 2016, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated that approximately 3,560,570 U.S. women are living with a prior diagnosis of breast cancer.[3]

A U.S. woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer increased steadily and dramatically from the 1930s, when the first reliable cancer incidence data was established, through the end of the twentieth century.[4] Between 1973 and 1998, breast cancer incidence rates in the United States increased by more than 40 percent.[5] Today a US woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is 1 in 8.[6]

As cancer incidence data have become more nuanced over the past decade, it is clear that the incidence of breast cancer varies considerably by a number of factors, including age and ethnicity.

Historically in the US, breast cancer incidence has been higher in white women than in African American women. However, in 2016, incidence in African American women caught up with that of white women. Further, among women younger than 45, breast cancer incidence is higher among African American women than white women.[7] Younger women in general, and younger African American women in particular, are more likely to present with the triple-negative subtype of the disease, a diagnosis that is both more aggressive and associated with a higher mortality.[8],[9] 

Across racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., (deaths per 100,000 women, age-adjusted and normalized to the 2,000 standardized U.S. population) African American women have the highest breast cancer mortality rate (31%) of any racial/ethnic group. Asian Pacific Islander women have the lowest mortality rates (11.4%), with white (21.9%), Hispanic (14.5%) and American Indian/Native American (15%) women having intermediate rates.

Despite the universal drop in mortality rates across the past two decades and the similarity in incidence rates, over the same time period the disparities between mortality rates for white and black women have grown significantly. The mortality rate for black women diagnosed with breast cancer is 42% higher than the comparable rate for white women.[10]

[1] Jemal A, Siegel R, Ward E, et al. (2009). Cancer statistics, 2009. Cancer, 59:225-249.

[2] ACS: American Cancer Society. Key breast cancer statistics. Available online: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-key-statistics

[3] DeSantis CE, Fedewa SA, Goding Sauer A, Kramer JL, Smith RA, Jemal A. Breast cancer statistics, 2015: Convergence of incidence rates between black and white women: Breast Cancer Statistics, 2015. CA Cancer J Clin. 2016;66:31-42.

[4] Jatoi I, Anderson WF, Rao SR, et al. (2005). Breast cancer trends among black and white women in the United States. J Clin Oncol, 23:7836-7841.

[5] NCI: National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Statistics. Available online: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast

[6] SEER: Surveillence, epidemiolody, and end results program. SEER stat fact sheets: female breast cancer. Available online: https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/breast.html

[7] DeSantis CE, Fedewa SA, Goding Sauer A, Kramer JL, Smith RA, Jemal A. Breast cancer statistics, 2015: Convergence of incidence rates between black and white women. CA Cancer J Clin. 2015.

[8] Bowen, R., Stebbing, J., & Jones, L. (2006). A review of the ethnic differences in breast cancer. Pharmacogenomics, 7, 935–942.

[9] Lund E, Dumeaux V (2008). Systems epidemiology in cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 17:2954-2957.

[10] DeSantis CE, Siegel RL, Sauer AG, et al. Cancer statistics for African Americans, 2016: Progress and opportunities in reducing racial disparities: Cancer Statistics for African Americans, 2016. CA Cancer J Clin. 2016;66:290-308.

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