Breast cancer. Second to skin cancer, it's the most common type of cancer in people assigned female at birth (AFAB) in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Statistically speaking, if eight people AFAB are in a room together, one of them will have breast cancer in their lifetime. Knowing these odds, along with who is most likely to get this cancer type, can help us better understand the disease and how best to treat and prevent it.
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Worldwide Prevalence of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide for people AFAB, overtaking lung cancer in 2020 (though lung cancer remains the top newly diagnosed cancer for people assigned male at birth), according to a December 2020 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization.
That IARC report found the following:
- In 2020, 1 in 8 cancers diagnosed worldwide was breast cancer.
- This cancer type accounts for 1 in 4 cancer cases globally for people AFAB.
- Breast cancer in people AFAB accounts for nearly 12 percent of all new annual cancer cases around the world.
- Breast cancer ranks first in terms of incidence and mortality in most countries around the world.
By Region and Country
The incidence of breast cancer varies by region. For example, according to a November 2019 article in La Presse Médicale and an April 2019 article in Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy, the incidence for breast cancer in these regions is:
- Central-East Asia and Africa: 27 out of 100,000
- Australia and Western Europe: 85 to 94 out of 100,000
- North America: 92 out of 100,000
Taking a closer look, here are some stats by country in those regions:
- Nearly 24 percent of all breast cancer cases occur in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy article.
- The highest rates for breast cancer in that region are in China, Japan and Indonesia, according to the same article.
- France has the highest rate of breast cancer in Europe, reports the La Presse Médicale article.
Breast Cancer in the U.S.
Next, we'll break down the numbers in the U.S. as a whole before we look at new case rates state-by-state.
In 2022, an estimated 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in people AFAB, according to the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER).
Approximately 51,400 new cases of non-invasive, or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), female breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2022, according to the ACS.
Breast cancer is estimated to be the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022, per SEER.
Nearly 15 percent of all new cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. are breast cancer, according to the latest SEER stats.
The incidence rates of breast cancer have increased by 0.5 percent per year, according to the ACS.
Here's a breakdown of new cases of breast cancer in people AFAB by state (including Washington, D.C.), along with a look at how many people per 100,000 were diagnosed in the year 2019, according to the most recent stats from U.S. Cancer Statistics (USCS), The Official Federal Cancer Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's important to look at both numbers, because you'll see that Texas had the highest number of new cases at 19,222, but Delaware had the highest incidence rate, with 147 per 100,000 people diagnosed.
- Alabama: 4,100 new cases; 127 per 100,000
- Alaska: 498 new cases; 131 per 100,000
- Arizona: 5,234 new cases; 113 per 100,000
- Arkansas: 2,513 new cases; 129 per 100,000
- California: 28,781 new cases; 125 per 100,000
- Colorado: 4,382 new cases; 131 per 100,000
- Connecticut: 3,396 new cases; 143 per 100,000
- Delaware: 991 new cases; 147 per 100,000
- District of Columbia: 469 new cases; 125 per 100,000
- Florida: 18,836 new cases; 123 per 100,000
- Georgia: 8,222 new cases; 129 per 100,000
- Hawaii: 1,272 new cases; 141 per 100,000
- Idaho: 1,367 new cases; 129 per 100,000
- Illinois: 10,647 new cases; 135 per 100,000
- Indiana: 4,971 new cases; 118 per 100,000
- Iowa: 2,752 new cases; 138 per 100,000
- Kansas: 2,362 new cases; 133 per 100,000
- Kentucky: 3,756 new cases; 131 per 100,000
- Louisiana: 3,716 new cases; 129 per 100,000
- Maine: 1,331 new cases; 134 per 100,000
- Maryland: 5,375 new cases; 139 per 100,000
- Massachusetts: 6,139 new cases; 138 per 100,000
- Michigan: 8,045 new cases; 124 per 100,000
- Minnesota: 4,600 new cases; 134 per 100,000
- Mississippi: 2,396 new cases; 127 per 100,000
- Missouri: 5,358 new cases; 136 per 100,000
- Montana: 928 new cases; 135 per 100,000
- Nebraska: 1,484 new cases; 130 per 100,000
- Nevada: Data on new cancer cases is not available
- New Hampshire: 1,319 new cases; 140 per 100,000
- New Jersey: 8,208 new cases; 143 per 100,000
- New Mexico: 1,655 new cases; 124 per 100,000
- New York: 17,730 new cases; 141 per 100,000
- North Carolina: 9,420 new cases; 138 per 100,000
- North Dakota: 590 new cases; 137 per 100,000
- Ohio: 10,066 new cases; 131 per 100,000
- Oklahoma: 2,885 new cases; 120 per 100,000
- Oregon: 3,725 new cases; 135 per 100,000
- Pennsylvania: 11,314 new cases; 131 per 100,000
- Rhode Island: 1,009 new cases; 145 per 100,000
- South Carolina: 4,545 new cases; 132 per 100,000
- South Dakota: 678 new cases; 127 per 100,000
- Tennessee: 5,376 new cases; 121 per 100,000
- Texas: 19,222 new cases; 122 per 100,000
- Utah: 1,763 new cases; 119 per 100,000
- Vermont: 609 new cases; 139 per 100,000
- Virginia: 6,875 new cases; 128 per 100,000
- Washington: 6,073 new cases; 133 per 100,000
- West Virginia: 1,604 new cases; 127 per 100,000
- Wisconsin: 5,118 new cases; 138 per 100,000
- Wyoming: 416 new cases; 115 per 100,000
Breast Cancer Demographics
This all naturally leads us to: Who gets breast cancer? And more specifically, what population is most affected by breast cancer? Here are some answers.
Below is a look at how common breast cancer is by age, according to SEER, unless otherwise specified.
- 63 years old is the median age at diagnosis for breast cancer in people AFAB in the U.S.
- The age of most frequent diagnosis in the U.S. is between 65 and 74, and people in this age group account for 26.5 percent of all new cases.
- Nearly 26 percent of new cases of breast cancer in people AFAB were diagnosed in those ages 55 to 64.
- Just 2 percent of new cases were diagnosed in people AFAB ages 20 to 34.
- People AFAB between the ages of 15 and 39 are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage of breast cancer (47 percent) compared to those older than 65 (68 percent), possibly because most breast cancer screening doesn't start until age 40, unless that person is at higher risk, according to Cancer.Net, a site powered by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
By Race and Ethnicity
Here's a look at what race has the highest breast cancer rate and which ethnicity group is affected most by the disease, according to October 2019 results in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the ACS's peer-reviewed medical journal:
- White adults: 130.8 per 100,000
- Black adults: 126.7 per 100,000
- Hispanic adults: 93.7 per 100,000
- American Indian/Alaskan Native adults: 94.7 per 100,000
- Asian/Pacific Islanders: 93.2 per 100,000
In more detail:
- Before the age of 40, Black people AFAB have the highest breast cancer incidence rate.
- Disparities in breast cancer incidence and mortality are largest in young people AFAB and decline with age; for instance, the death rate for Black adults is 1.9 to 2.6 times higher than for white adults in those 50 and younger, but 1.1 to 1.2 times higher in those ages 70 and older.
- Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaskan Native patients are less likely to be diagnosed with local-stage breast cancers (56 to 60 percent) compared with Asian/Pacific Islander and white patients (64 to 66 percent).
- About 8 percent of Black patients are diagnosed with distant-stage (metastatic) breast cancer, compared with 5 to 6 percent of patients of other races and ethnicities.
- Black people AFAB are most likely to be diagnosed with tumors that are equal to or greater than 5 cm (12 percent) or high grade (42 percent), and they are the only group for which high-grade tumors are more common than low-grade or intermediate-grade tumors.
By Breast Cancer Type
Breast cancer is a complex disease with more than 20 subtypes, but here, we'll focus on stats concerning the stages of progression (0 through 4) along with SEER's three stages: localized, regional and distant.
- Roughly 20 percent of all breast tumors in people AFAB are in situ breast cancer (DCIS), according to 2015 data from the ACS. This type typically begins in a milk duct and hasn't yet spread to other breast tissue, according to the ACS. It's considered stage 0, or non-invasive.
- Of those in situ tumors, about 83 percent are DCIS, while 12 percent will be lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), also called lobular neoplasia (abnormal cells not considered cancer), the ACS reports.
- About 81 percent of breast cancers are invasive, according to the ACS.
- About 64 percent of people AFAB with breast cancer are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer located only in the breast, or stage 1/local stage, the ACS reports.
- Stages 2 and 3, or regional stage disease, are also in the breast but have spread to nearby lymph nodes (the severity of the stage can be determined by the degree of that spread). Stage 3 tumors can also grow into nearby tissues like the skin over the breast or the muscle underneath. About 27 percent of people with the disease have regional stage breast cancer, according to the ACS.
- Just 6 percent of people have metastatic breast cancer at diagnosis, according to Cancer.Net. This is considered stage 4 breast cancer, or when this cancer type has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body, according to the ACS.
- Of the some 150,000+ breast cancer survivors who live with metastatic disease, three-quarters were originally diagnosed with the disease in stages 1, 2 or 3, according to the ACS.
While breast cancer is more common in people AFAB, people assigned male at birth (AMAB) can also get the disease.
- People AMAB can have the following types of breast cancer, according to the NCI: infiltrating ductal carcinoma, DCIS, inflammatory breast cancer and Paget disease of the nipple. They have not been reported to have LCIS.
- In 2022, approximately 2,710 people AMAB will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S., according to Cancer.Net. (Remember, that's in contrast to SEER data that estimated 287,850 people AFAB will be diagnosed the same year with invasive female breast cancer.)
- Less than 1 percent of all cases of breast cancer occur in people AMAB, according to the NCI, or 1 out of every 100 cases diagnosed, according to the CDC. However, there was a 40 percent increase in the incidence of cancer in people AMAB from 1975 through 2015, per an August 2020 study published in the journal Breast.
- Black people AMAB have the highest incidence rates of breast cancer (2.7 out of every 100,000), Cancer.Net reports.
- White people AMAB have the next highest incidence rates (1.9 out of every 100,000), according to Cancer.Net.
Stats on Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Knowing the statistics around female breast cancer risk factors can help us understand what might affect our chance of having this cancer type. Here are just some of those statistics, from BreastCancer.org.
- For people AFAB, the risk of breast cancer almost doubles if you have a first-degree relative who's been diagnosed with breast cancer, including a mother, sister or daughter.
- Less than 15 percent of people AFAB diagnosed with breast cancer have a family member also diagnosed with the disease.
- About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linkable to known gene mutations inherited from a person's parents.
- BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are the most common genetic mutations that cause breast cancer. Case in point: Someone with a BRCA1 mutation, on average, has up to a 72 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, while someone with the BRCA2 mutation has a 69 percent risk.
- Breast cancers with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation tend to develop most commonly in younger women.
- These genetic mutations also come with an increased ovarian cancer risk.
- For people AMAB, BRCA2 mutations are associated with a lifetime breast cancer risk of about 6.8 percent; BRCA1 mutations don't cause breast cancer as commonly in people AMAB.
- About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in people AFAB who have no family history of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Mortality and Survival Rates
While there are currently more than 3.8 million people living with breast cancer (some cancer-free, some still with evidence of cancer, some undergoing treatment) in the U.S., according to the ACS, breast cancer can lead to death. First, we'll examine the breast cancer mortality rate with this cancer type, and then we'll look at some more uplifting stats.
Worldwide Breast Cancer Mortality
- Breast cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide, with 685,000 deaths in 2020, according to the IARC.
- This cancer type accounts for 1 in 6 cancer deaths in people AFAB, the IARC reports.
U.S. Breast Cancer Mortality
- 1 in 39 people AFAB (3 percent) will die from breast cancer in the U.S., according to the ACS.
- An estimated 43,250 people will die of female breast cancer in 2022, according to SEER data.
- An estimated 530 people AMAB will die from breast cancer in 2022, according to Cancer.Net. (People AMAB have a lower survival rate than people AFAB, per a November 2019 study published in JAMA Oncology.)
- Black people AFAB have the highest breast cancer death rate (28.4 per 100,000). That's 40 percent higher than white people AFAB (20.3 per 100,000) and more than double the rate in API people AFAB (11.5 per 100,000), according to CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
- Black people AFAB are most likely to die from breast cancer at every age, according to the CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians article.
Breast Cancer Survival Rates
The female breast cancer survival rates change by severity of the cancer type at diagnosis. In addition, breast cancers are staged by the three SEER stages, so survival rates are not broken down by numbered stages, like you might expect. Here are those numbers.
- The average five-year survival rate for people AFAB with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer, of all three SEER stages combined, is 90 percent, according to Cancer.Net. (The five-year survival rate is how many people live at least five years after cancer is found.)
- The average 10-year survival rate for people AFAB with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 84 percent, according to Cancer.Net. (That's the percentage of people still alive at least 10 years after diagnosis.)
- The average five-year survival rate for DCIS is more than 98 percent, according to the Moffitt Cancer Center.
- If female breast cancer is located only in the breast, or is "localized," the five-year survival rate is 99 percent, Cancer.Net
- If the disease has spread to nearby lymph nodes, or is "regional," the five-year survival rate is 86 percent, according to Cancer.Net.
- If female breast cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes, or is "distant," the five-year survival rate is 29 percent. This is also called metastatic breast cancer, according to Cancer.Net.
- The cancer type called triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of invasive breast cancer that accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancers, according to the ACS, has different survival rates. The average five-year survival rate for this cancer type with all stages combined is 77 percent. For localized disease, it's 91 percent; regional, 65 percent; and distant, 12 percent.
- Inflammatory breast cancer, which accounts for up to 5 percent of all breast cancers, is an aggressive form of the disease also with different survival rates, according to the ACS. The average five-year survival rate of the two SEERs stages is 40 percent; for regional disease, it's 54 percent; and for distant, it's 19 percent.
- Black people AFAB are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white people AFAB, but face disparities when it comes to outcomes, per the ACS, with an 82 percent five-year survival rate for Black people AFAB at birth, compared to 92 percent for white people AFAB.
- The breast cancer death rate increased by 0.4 percent per year
from 1975 to 1989, but since then has seen an incredible
decrease, at a total decline of 40 percent through 2017, according to the CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians article.
- Because of this rapid decline in the death rate, an estimated 375,900 breast cancer deaths have been prevented in women in the U.S. through 2017, that same article reports.
Breast Cancer Screening Stats
Both treatment innovations and early detection of breast cancer by mammography have helped drive down breast cancer mortality rates, the CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians article reveals. Here are some stats on breast cancer screening from that same article:
- In the 1980s and 1990s, DCIS and invasive breast cancer incidence rates increased significantly, especially in people AFAB ages 50 and older. This is largely due to the increased use of mammography screening detecting the cases.
- Mammography screening increased from 29 percent in 1987 to 70 percent in 2000.
- In ranges by state, the reported prevalence of up-to-date screening according to the ACS' guideline (which is annual screening for women ages 45 to 54 and biennial screening for those 55 and older) in 2016 ranged from 57 percent in Wyoming to 79 percent in Rhode Island.
- For biennial mammography among women ages 50 to 74 (according to screening recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force), the prevalence ranged from 64 percent in Idaho and Wyoming to 86 percent in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Breast Cancer Treatment by the Numbers
Recent treatment advances, including the identification of genetic changes in breast cancer tumors, could lead to more targeted breast cancer treatment and continue to save lives. This is what the CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians article published about breast cancer treatment:
- Nearly half of patients with early stage (stage 1 or 2) breast cancer underwent breast-conserving surgery with adjuvant radiation therapy, and one-third underwent mastectomy (this was in 2016).
- Even with similar survival when combined with radiation, patients who are breast-conserving surgery-eligible are increasingly electing mastectomy.
- Patients under 40 and those with larger and/or more aggressive tumor characteristics are more likely to be treated with mastectomy and contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.
- The percentage of people AFAB having surgery for nonmetastatic disease in one breast who receive contralateral prophylactic mastectomy has increased from 10 percent in 2004 to 33 percent in 2012 in those ages 20 to 44, and from 4 to 10 percent in those 45 and older.
- About 18 percent of patients who had early stage disease had treatment including chemotherapy.
- Recent data shows an increase in the use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, especially in patients with HER2-positive and triple-negative breast cancers.
- Patients with metastatic breast cancer are mainly managed with palliative/noncurative-intent treatment. Data shows 56 percent receive radiation/chemotherapy alone, and 26 percent receive no treatment (although some had hormonal therapy).
- The survival rate for metastatic female breast cancer has improved over the last three decades thanks to more targeted systemic therapies (particularly in HR-positive and HER2-positive disease).
Breast Cancer Funding and Cost
Research into new treatment for breast cancer and discoveries about genetic links with cancer can only enhance our current offerings and help raise the survival rate, especially for progressive cancer types. But research and development come with a cost. See some financial stats, below.
Each year, the U.S. federal government allocates money for cancer research. Here are some recent funding numbers:
- For 2022, the National Institutes of Health was funded at $45 billion, with the NCI receiving $6 .9 billion, according to the NIH and NCI.
- In 2020, the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act was reauthorized through 2026, and the authorization level increased to $9 million, per Susan G. Komen.
- The Bipartisan Appropriations Package Department of Defense peer-reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program (DoD BCRP) received $150 million in funding for breast cancer prevention, detection and treatment, for fiscal year 2022, per the Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).
Funding for cancer, and specifically breast cancer, comes from many different outlines, not just the federal government — other outlets include state-funded research programs, hospital and medical school research programs, private foundations, nonprofit organizations (including medical societies) and the pharmaceutical industry. We won't look at every organization that raises funds for breast cancer awareness and research — the list would be too long — so we'll look at five in different sectors of funding:
- In 20202-2022, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is funding $47.5 million in breast cancer research, helping 275 scientists at leading academic and medical institutions around the world to study the cancer type.
- As of 2022, Susan G. Komen, the largest and among the most-funded breast cancer organization in the U.S., has invested almost $1.1 billion in research and $7.7 million in community health programs.
- The ACS's 2020 data is as follows: $147 million for cancer research, $269 million for patient support, $104 million for prevention information and education, and $63 million invested in detection and treatment.
- In 2021, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the world's oldest and largest private cancer center, received 600,000 donations from people, foundations and companies for more than $600 million to help fund advances in cancer care, research and education.
- The Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology pledged $4,469,532. for general support of its mission (to advance the prevention, treatment and cures of all types of cancer) as well as specific program support in 2020.
National Cost of Breast Cancer Care
While the money raised and pledged to breast cancer prevention, research and care is high, it's also an expensive national expenditure.
Breast cancer has the highest treatment cost of any cancer, per the CDC.
National costs for cancer care were estimated at $208.9 billion in 2020, according to the NCI, and the estimate of national expenditures for care for female breast cancer specifically was $29.8 billion.
- American Cancer Society: “About Breast Cancer”
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- La Presse Médicale: “Breast cancer epidemiology.”
- Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy: “Epidemiological characteristics of and risk factors for breast cancer in the world.”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Cancer Statistics. “United States Cancer Statistics: Data Visualizations.”
- Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER): “Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer”
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