Breast Cancer Statistics and Studies

Posted in FAQ, Things that effect rates
Last updated September 27, 2019

All women are at risk for breast cancer.

  • The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age.
  • Most breast cancers and breast cancer deaths occur in women 50 and older
  • The overall median age at diagnosis for women in the U.S. is 62. The median is the middle value of a group of numbers, so about half of women are diagnosed before age 62 and about half are diagnosed after age 62. The median age at diagnosis for U.S. women varies by race/ethnicity.

Although rare, younger women can get breast cancer.

Fewer than 5 percent of breast cancers occur in women under age 40.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death (death from any type of cancer) among women ages 20-39

Genetic factors can put some younger women at a higher risk of breast cancer. Women diagnosed at younger ages may have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. These gene mutations increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Who Gets This Cancer?

Female breast cancer is most common in middle-aged and older women. Although rare, men can develop breast cancer as well. The number of new cases of female breast cancer was 127.5 per 100,000 women per year based on 2012-2016 cases.

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Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity: Female Breast Cancer (Females)

RaceCases of breast cancer per 100,000 females
All races127.5
Caucasian130.2
African/African American124.0
Asian/Pacific Islander100.1
American Indian/Alaska Native79.5
Hispanic97.2

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Female Breast Cancer (Females)

Age groupPercentage of new cases
Younger than 200.0%
20-341.9%
35-448.4%
45-5420.1%
55-6425.6%
65-7424.8%
75-8413.7%
Older than 845.6%

Female breast cancer is most frequently diagnosed among women aged 55-64

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Who Dies From This Cancer?

Overall, female breast cancer survival is good. However, women who are diagnosed at an advanced age may be more likely than younger women to die of the disease. Female breast cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The number of deaths was 20.6 per 100,000 women per year based on 2012-2016.

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity: Female Breast Cancer (Females)

RaceDeaths per 100,000 females
All races20.6
Caucasian20.1
African/African American28.1
Asian/Pacific Islander11.2
American Indian/Alaska Native14.3
Hispanic14.2

Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Female Breast Cancer (Females)

Age groupPercentage of deaths
Younger than 200.0%
20-340.9%
35-444.7%
45-5412.9%
55-6421.8%
65-7422.9%
75-8419.7%
Older than 8417.0%

The percent of female breast cancer deaths is highest among women aged 65-74.

Changes Over Time

Keeping track of the number of new cases, deaths, and survival over time (trends) can help scientists understand whether progress is being made and where additional research is needed to address challenges, such as improving screening or finding better treatments.

Using statistical models for analysis, rates for new female breast cancer cases have been rising on average 0.3% each year over the last 10 years. Death rates have been falling on average 1.8% each year over 2007-2016. 5-year survival trends are shown below.

In the United States:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women after skin cancer.
  • There are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.
  • In the U.S. in 2019, there will be an estimated 271,270 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women and 2,670 cases diagnosed in men.
  • From 2005 to 2014, the most recent 10 years for which data are available, invasive breast cancer incidence rates were stable in white women and increased slightly (by 0.3% per year) in black women.
  • An estimated 42,260 breast cancer deaths will occur.
  • 500 men will die from breast cancer. 
  • The 5- and 10-year relative survival rates for women with invasive breast cancer are 90% and 83%, respectively. 
  • The overall 5-year relative survival rate is 99% for localized disease, 85% for regional disease, and 27% for distant-stage disease.
  • Since 1975, the breast cancer 5-year relative survival rate has increased significantly for both black and white women. While a substantial gap remains, especially for late-stage diagnoses, the racial disparity seems to be narrowing. In the most recent period, the 5-year relative survival rate was 83% for black women and 92% for white women. 
  • About 6% of women have metastatic cancer when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer. Even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, new treatments help many people with breast cancer maintain a good quality of life, at least for some time.It is important to note that these statistics are averages, and each person’s chance of recovery depends on many factors, including the size of the tumor, the number of lymph nodes that contain cancer, and other features of the tumor that affect how quickly a tumor will grow and how well treatment works. This means that it can be difficult to estimate each person’s chance of survival.Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States, after lung cancer. However, since 1989, the number of women who have died of breast cancer has steadily decreased thanks to early detection and treatment improvements.

According to the American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2018-2019

How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Female Breast Cancer?

Relative survival statistics compare the survival of patients diagnosed with cancer with the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.

Percentage Surviving | 5 years | 89.9%

Survival by Stage

Cancer stage at diagnosis, which refers to extent of a cancer in the body, determines treatment options and has a strong influence on the length of survival. In general, if the cancer is found only in the part of the body where it started it is localized (sometimes referred to as stage 1). If it has spread to a different part of the body, the stage is regional or distant. The earlier female breast cancer is caught, the better chance a person has of surviving five years after being diagnosed. For female breast cancer, 62.5% are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized female breast cancer is 98.8%.

5-year Relative Survival (%) by Age Group (years), All Races, Female Breast Cancer, United States

How Common Is Female Breast Cancer?

Compared to other cancers, female breast cancer is fairly common.

Types of cancerEstimated new cases (2019)Estimated deaths (2019)
Breast Cancer (Female)268,60041,760
Lung and Bronchus Cancer228,150142,670
Prostate Cancer174,65031,620
Colorectal Cancer145,60051,020
Melanoma of the Skin96,4807,230
Bladder Cancer80,47017,670
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma74,20019,970
Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer73,82014,770
Uterine Cancer61,88012,160
Leukemia61,78022,840

Female breast cancer represents 15.2% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

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Genomic tests to predict recurrence risk

Doctors use genomic tests to look for specific genes or substances made by the genes called proteins that are found in or on cancer cells. These tests help doctors better understand the unique features of each patient’s breast cancer. Genomic tests can also help estimate the risk of the cancer coming back after treatment. Knowing this information helps doctors and patients make decisions about specific treatments and can help some patients avoid unwanted side effects from a treatment that may not be needed.

The genomic tests listed below can be done on a sample of the tumor that was already removed during biopsy or surgery. Most patients will not need an extra biopsy or more surgery for these tests.

  • Oncotype Dx™. This test is an option for people with ER-positive and/or PR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes. This test can help patients and their doctors make decisions about whether chemotherapy should be added to hormonal therapy. This test looks at 16 cancer-related genes and 5 reference genes to calculate a “recurrence score” that estimates the risk of the cancer coming back within 10 years after diagnosis. The recurrence score is used to guide recommendations on the use of chemotherapy, which may also differ by age. The recommendations are listed by age group below.

For patients age 50 or younger

    • Recurrence score less than 16: Chemotherapy is generally not needed along with hormonal therapy
    • Recurrence score of 16 to 30: Chemotherapy may be added to hormonal therapy
    • Recurrence score of 31 or higher: Chemotherapy is usually added to hormonal therapy

For patients older than 50

    • Recurrence score less than 26: Chemotherapy is generally not needed along with hormonal therapy
    • Recurrence score of 26 to 30: Chemotherapy may be added to hormonal therapy
    • Recurrence score of 31 or higher: Chemotherapy is usually added to hormonal therapy
  • MammaPrint™. This test is an option for people with ER-positive and/or PR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes or has only spread to 1 to 3 lymph nodes. This test uses information from 70 genes to estimate the risk of recurrence for early-stage breast cancer. For people with a high risk of the cancer coming back, this test can help patients and their doctors make decisions about whether chemotherapy should be added to hormonal therapy. This test is not recommended for people with a low risk of the cancer coming back.
  • Breast Cancer Index™. This test is an option for people with ER-positive and/or PR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes. This test may help patients and their doctors make decisions about how long a patient should receive hormonal therapy.
  • Additional tests. There are additional tests that may be options for people with ER-positive and/or PR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes. These tests include PAM50 (Prosigna™), EndoPredict, and uPA/PAI and can also be used to estimate how likely a cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

The tests listed above have not been shown to be useful to predict risk of recurrence for people with HER2-positive or triple-negative breast cancer. Therefore, none of these tests are currently recommended for breast cancer that is HER2 positive or triple negative. Your doctor will use other factors to help recommend treatment options for you.

Talk with your doctor for more information about genomic tests, what they mean, and how the results might affect your treatment plan.

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References

All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER, the Centers for Disease Control, and Susan G. Komen

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