Breast Cancer Statistics

Rates of breast cancer vary among different groups of people. Rates vary between women and men and among people of different ethnicities and ages. They vary around the world and across the U.S.

This section provides an overview of breast cancer statistics for many populations.   

Women

In 2020, it’s estimated among women in the U.S. there will be [57]:

  • 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers.)
  • 48,530 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a non-invasive breast cancer
  • 42,170 breast cancer deaths

Men

In 2020, it’s estimated among men in the U.S. there will be [57]:

  • 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancers, but not recurrences of original breast cancers.)
  • 520 breast cancer deaths

Rates of breast cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (death) are much lower among men than among women [58-59].

In 2017 (most recent data available) [58-59]: 

  Men Women
Incidence (new cases) 1.3 per 100,000 131.6 per 100,000
Mortality (deaths) 0.3 per 100,000 19.9 per 100,000

Learn more about breast cancer in men.  

In 2020, it’s estimated among men in the U.S. there will be [57]:

  • 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancers, but not recurrences of original breast cancers.)
  • 520 breast cancer deaths

Rates of breast cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (death) are much lower among men than among women [58-59].

In 2017 (most recent data available) [58-59]:

 

Men

Women

Incidence (new cases)

1.3 per 100,000

131.6 per 100,000

Mortality (deaths)

0.3 per 100,000

19.9 per 100,000

Race and ethnicity

Breast cancer incidence in U.S. men varies by race and ethnicity.

Black men have the highest breast cancer incidence overall [111]. Hispanic men have the lowest [111].

For example, in 2017 (most recent data available) [111]:

 

 Black
men

White
men

Asian and Pacific Islander
men

Hispanic
men

Incidence
(new cases)

1.8 per 100,000

1.2 per 100,000

0.7 per 100,000

0.6 per 100,000

Black men also have higher breast cancer mortality than white and Hispanic men [112].

For example, in 2017 (most recent data available) [112]:

 

 Black
men

White
men

Asian and Pacific Islander
men

Hispanic
men

Mortality
(deaths)

0.5 per 100,000

0.3 per 100,000

Not available

0.1 per 100,000

Age at diagnosis

Overall, the median age of breast cancer diagnosis for men in the U.S. is 68 [89]. The median is the middle value of a group of numbers, so about half of men are diagnosed before age 68 and about half are diagnosed after age 68.

The median age of breast cancer diagnosis for men is older than for women (overall, the median age at diagnosis for women is 62) [89].

Metastatic breast cancer at diagnosis

Most often, metastatic breast cancer arises months or years after a person has completed treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer.

Some people have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed (called de novo metastatic breast cancer). In the U.S., 9 percent of men have metastases when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer [16].

Learn more about metastatic breast cancer.

Breast cancer rates in men over time

From 2000-2017 (most recent data available), breast cancer incidence in men remained stable [68].

From 2003-2017 (most recent data available), breast cancer mortality in men remained stable [69].

Learn more about breast cancer in men.

Learn about treatment for breast cancer in men.

Breast cancer incidence over time

In the 1980s and 1990s, breast cancer incidence rose, largely due to increased mammography screening [60].

Breast cancer incidence declined between 1999 and 2004 [60]. This decline appears to be related to the drop in use of menopausal hormone therapy after it was shown to increase the risk of breast cancer [60-62].

Mammography screening rates also fell somewhat during the early 2000s. However, studies show the decline in breast cancer incidence during this time was not likely due to the decline in screening rates [61-62].

From 2012-2016, overall breast cancer incidence rates increased slightly (by less than one percent per year) [60]. This may be due, in part, to an increase in body weight and a decline in the number of births among women in the U.S. over time [60].

Different incidence trends may be seen in some groups of women. 

Breast cancer mortality over time

Breast cancer mortality (death) rates in the U.S. increased slowly from 1975 through the 1980s [60].

From 1989-2017 (most recent data available), breast cancer mortality decreased by 40 percent due to improved breast cancer treatment and early detection [60]. Since 1989, about 375,900 breast cancer deaths in U.S. women have been avoided [60].

Breast cancer mortality decreased by about one percent per year from 2011-2017 [60]. Different breast cancer mortality trends may have been seen in some groups of women.

Mammography and rates of early detection over time

Mammography screening became widely available in the 1980s and 1990s. During this time, diagnoses of early stage breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), increased greatly [60]. This was likely due to the increased use of mammography screening during this time period [60]. 

Among women 50 and older, rates of DCIS increased from 7 cases per 100,000 women in 1980 to 83 cases per 100,000 women in 2008 [60]. From 2012-2016, rates of DCIS declined by about 2 percent per year [60].

Race/ethnicity and breast cancer incidence rates over time

The overall incidence of breast cancer is higher among white/non-Hispanic white women than among black/non-Hispanic black women [58,64-65].

From 2008-2017 (most recent data available), the incidence of breast cancer remained stable in white women and increased slightly (less than one percent per year) in black women [65]. 

Learn more about race/ethnicity and breast cancer risk.

Race/ethnicity and breast cancer mortality rates over time

From 2008-2017 (most recent data available), mortality (death) from breast cancer declined for both white women and black women (by almost 2 percent per year) [65].

However, breast cancer mortality is about 39 percent higher for black women than white women [65].

Figure 1.2 (below) shows these trends.

Learn more about the disparity in breast cancer mortality between black and white women.

Learn more about race/ethnicity and breast cancer risk.    

Figure 1.2 

Figure 1.2 Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality Between Black Women and White Women  

Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population.
Source: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2017, 2020 [66-67

Breast cancer rates in men over time

From 2000-2017 (most recent data available), breast cancer incidence in men remained stable [68].

From 2003-2017 (most recent data available), breast cancer mortality in men remained stable [69].

Learn more about breast cancer in men

Incidence rates and the number of new cases

To know whether or not breast cancer rates are changing over time, you have to compare rates, rather than the number of new cases.

For example, let’s compare the number of new cases of breast cancer in U.S. in 2009 to the number of new cases in 2016. In 2009, there were an estimated 192,370 new cases of breast cancer in U.S. women [70]. In 2016, there were an estimated 246,660 new cases [71].

Although more breast cancer cases occurred in 2016 than in 2009, this doesn’t mean the rate of breast cancer increased over this time period.

We expect the number of cases to increase over time because the population of the U.S. increases over time [72]. The more people there are, the more cancers there will be.

Our population is also living longer (so there are more people who are older) [73]. Since age increases the risk of breast cancer, we expect to have more breast cancers over time.

To know if breast cancer rates are changing over time, we look at incidence rates, rather than the number of new cases. The incidence rate shows the number of breast cancer cases in a set population size. It’s usually written as the number of cases in a population of 100,000 people.

The breast cancer incidence rate among women in 2009 was 131 and the estimated breast cancer incidence rate in 2016 was also 131 [66]. This means there were 131 breast cancer cases per 100,000 women in the U.S. population in both time periods.

So, although the number of breast cancer cases has increased over time, breast cancer rates were fairly stable.

Learn about breast cancer statistics for 2020.

Learn about breast cancer incidence time trends (including a figure of breast cancer incidence since 1975).

Survival and mortality (death) rates

Survival depends on mortality. You start with 100 percent of the people in the group.

 

100 percent – mortality rate = survival rate

 

Say, the mortality rate in the group of people is 5 percent. Survival would be 95 percent (100 – 5 = 95).

Similarly, the number of people in a group who survive depends on the number of people who die. Say, 500 people are in the group and 1 person dies. This means 499 people survived (500 – 1 = 499).

Mortality rates and number of breast cancer deaths

Sometimes it’s useful to have an estimate of the number of people expected to die from breast cancer in a year. This number helps show the burden of breast cancer in a group of people.

Numbers, however, can be hard to compare to each other. To compare mortality (or survival) in different populations, we need to look at mortality rates rather than the number of breast cancer deaths.

Examples of rates versus numbers

Say, town A has a population of 100,000 and town B has a population of 1,000. Over a year, say there are 100 breast cancer deaths in town A and 100 breast cancer deaths in town B.

The number of breast cancer deaths in each town is the same. However, many more people live in town A than live in town B. So, the mortality rates are quite different.

In town A, there were 10 breast cancer deaths among 100,000 people. This means the mortality rate was less than one percent (100 deaths/100,000 people = 0.001 = 0.1 percent mortality).

In town B, the mortality rate was 10 percent (100/1,000 = 0.1 = 10 percent).

Although the number of deaths was the same in town A and town B, the mortality rate was much higher in town B (10 percent) than in town A (less than one percent).

Let’s look at another example. In 2020, it’s estimated among women there will be [57]:

  • 100 breast cancer deaths in Washington, D.C.
  • 690 breast cancer deaths in Alabama
  • 4,620 breast cancer deaths in California

Of the 3, California has the highest number of breast cancers. However, that doesn’t mean it has the highest rate of breast cancer. These numbers don’t take into account the number of women who live in each state. Fewer women live in Alabama and Washington, D.C. than live in California.

Other factors may vary by state as well, such as the age and race/ethnicity of women. So, to compare breast cancer mortality (survival), we need to look at mortality rates.

In 2020, the estimated mortality rates are [57]:

  • 27 per 100,000 women in Washington, D.C.
  • 22 per 100,000 women in Alabama
  • 20 per 100,000 women in California

So, while Washington D.C. had the lowest number of breast cancer deaths, the breast cancer mortality rate was the highest of the 3. And, while California had the highest number of breast cancer deaths, its breast cancer mortality rate was the lowest.

Comparing mortality rates, we can see women who live in Washington D.C. have higher rates of breast cancer mortality (and thus, lower survival) than women in California.

Rates of breast cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (death) vary across the U.S.

Incidence

Figure 1.5 (below) shows the incidence rates of breast cancer for each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

New Hampshire, Washington D.C. and Connecticut have the highest breast cancer incidence rates [57]. Nevada, New Mexico and Texas have the lowest incidence rates [57].

For interactive maps of breast cancer incidence in the U.S., visit the National Cancer Institute (NCI) website.

Figure 1.5: Estimated Breast Cancer Incidence (New Cases) Rates among Women by State, 2012-2016
State Rate of Invasive Breast Cancer
(per 100,000 women)
State Rate of Invasive Breast Cancer
(per 100,000 women)
United States 125 Missouri 129
Alabama 122 Montana 124
Alaska 122 Nebraska 125
Arizona 115 Nevada 111
Arkansas 118 New Hampshire 145
California 121 New Jersey 134
Colorado 125 New Mexico 112
Connecticut 140 New York 131
Delaware 136 North Carolina 132
District of Columbia 141 North Dakota 127
Florida 118 Ohio 127
Georgia 126 Oklahoma 121
Hawaii 138 Oregon 125
Idaho 124 Pennsylvania 132
Illinois 132 Rhode Island 138
Indiana 122 South Carolina 129
Iowa 124 South Dakota 131
Kansas 126 Tennessee 123
Kentucky 126 Texas 112
Louisiana 124 Utah 115
Maine 126 Vermont 132
Maryland 132 Virginia 128
Massachusetts 138 Washington 135
Michigan 124 West Virginia 118
Minnesota 131 Wisconsin 131
Mississippi 118 Wyoming 113

Source: American Cancer Society, 2020 [57]

The breast cancer incidence rate for Puerto Rico is 94 cases per 100,000 women [57].

Mortality

Figure 1.6 (below) shows breast cancer mortality rates.

Washington D.C., Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest breast cancer mortality rates [57].  Hawaii has the lowest breast cancer mortality rate [57].

For interactive maps of breast cancer mortality in the U.S., visit the NCI website.

Figure 1.6: Estimated Breast Cancer Mortality (Death) Rates among Women by State, 2013-2017
State Rate of Breast Cancer Mortality
(per 100,000 women)
State Rate of Breast Cancer Mortality
(per 100,000 women) 
United States 20 Missouri 22
Alabama 22 Montana 20
Alaska 19 Nebraska 20
Arizona 19 Nevada 22
Arkansas 21 New Hampshire 19
California 20 New Jersey 21
Colorado 19 New Mexico 19
Connecticut 18 New York 19
Delaware 21 North Carolina 21
District of Columbia 27 North Dakota 18
Florida 19 Ohio 22
Georgia 22 Oklahoma 22
Hawaii 16 Oregon 20
Idaho 22 Pennsylvania 21
Illinois 21 Rhode Island 18
Indiana 21 South Carolina 22
Iowa 19 South Dakota 19
Kansas 19 Tennessee 22
Kentucky 21 Texas 20
Louisiana 23 Utah 20
Maine 19 Vermont 18
Maryland 22 Virginia 22
Massachusetts 18 Washington 20
Michigan 21 West Virginia 22
Minnesota 18 Wisconsin 19
Mississippi 24 Wyoming 18
Source: American Cancer Society, 2020 [57]

The breast cancer mortality rate for Puerto Rico is 18 deaths per 100,000 women [57].

Breast cancer incidence (new cases) rates worldwide

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.

It’s estimated more than 2 million new cases of breast cancer occurred worldwide among women and men in 2018 [74].

Breast cancer incidence rates around the world vary

In general, developed countries (such as the U.S., England and Australia) have higher rates of breast cancer than developing countries (such as Cambodia, Nepal and Rwanda). 

Figure 1.3: Breast cancer incidence rates worldwide  

Breast Cancer Incidence Worldwide 1-3

Source: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and World Health Organization (WHO) [74

Lifetime risk of breast cancer worldwide

Women who live in developed countries tend to have a higher lifetime risk of breast cancer than women who live in developing countries [74-75].

Although we don’t know all the reasons for these differences, lifestyle and reproductive factors likely play a large role.

Low screening rates and incomplete reporting can make rates of breast cancer in developing countries look lower than they truly are and may also explain some of these differences.

Figure 1.4: Lifetime risk of breast cancer worldwide 

Lifetime Risk of Breast Cancer World Wide

Source: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and World Health Organization (WHO) [74

Learn more about lifetime risk of breast cancer in the U.S.   

Breast cancer mortality (death) rates worldwide

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality (death) among women worldwide [74].

It’s estimated more than 600,000 breast cancer deaths among women and men worldwide occurred in 2018 [74].

Rates of breast cancer mortality vary around the world

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer mortality among women in developing countries (such as Cambodia, Nepal and Rwanda) [74-75].

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer mortality (lung cancer is first) among women in developed countries (such as the U.S., England and Australia) [74-75].

Prevalence

It’s estimated there are more than 168,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. in 2020 [15].

Men can also have metastatic breast cancer.

Learn more about metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer at diagnosis

Most often, metastatic breast cancer arises months or years after a person has completed treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer.

Some people have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed (called de novo metastatic breast cancer). In the U.S., 6 percent of women and 9 percent of men have metastases when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer [16].

Learn more about metastatic breast cancer.

Survival

Modern treatments continue to improve survival for people with metastatic breast cancer. However, survival varies greatly from person to person.

About one-third of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. live at least 5 years after diagnosis [15]. Some women may live 10 or more years beyond diagnosis [17].

Learn more about breast cancer survival rates.

Learn about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Breast cancer survival depends on a person’s diagnosis and treatment.

A main factor in survival is breast cancer stage. People with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or early stage invasive breast cancer have a better chance of survival than those with later stage cancers.

Measures of survival

There are different measures of survival including overall survival, breast cancer-specific survivalrelative survival and population survival.

It’s important to understand the differences between these measures when you see a survival rate. For example, breast cancer-specific survival is described below.

Breast cancer-specific survival rates

Disease-specific survival rates, such as breast cancer-specific survival, show the percentage of people who have not died from the disease over a certain period of time after diagnosis.

Five-year breast cancer-specific survival shows the percentage of people who have not died from breast cancer 5 years after diagnosis. These rates vary by breast cancer stage.

Breast Cancer Stage* 5-Year Breast Cancer-Specific Survival
I 98-100%
II 90-99%
III 66-98%

* For people diagnosed since January 1, 2018 who did not get neoadjuvant therapy

Adapted from Weiss et al. [76]

Learn more about survival statistics

Time trends

After mammography was shown to be an effective breast cancer screening tool in the late 1980s, the use of screening mammography in the U.S. quickly increased.

In 1987, 29 percent of women 40 years and older reported having a mammogram within the past 2 years [77]. By 2000, mammography use increased to 70 percent [77].

Since 2000, there has been a slight decline in mammography use for reasons that remain unknown [77].

In 2018 (most recent data available), 63 percent of women ages 45 and older in the U.S. reported having a mammogram within the past year (ages 45-54) or past 2 years (ages 55-74) [60]. Mammography rates, however, vary by group.

Age

In 2018 (most recent data available):

Age Percentage of women ages 45-54 who had a mammogram within the past year Percentage of women ages 55 and older who had a mammogram within the past 2 years
45-54 53% NA
55-64 NA 73%
65-74 NA 75%
75 and older NA 51%
NA = Not applicable

Adapted from American Cancer Society materials [60].  

Learn more about how rates of screening mammography vary among different groups of women.

Race/ethnicity

In 2018 (most recent data available):

Race/ethnicity Percentage of women ages 50-74 who had a mammogram within the past 2 years
Non-Hispanic Black 74%
Non-Hispanic White 73%
Hispanic 71%
Non-Hispanic Asian American 71%
Non-Hispanic American Indian and non-Hispanic Alaska Native 66%
Adapted from American Cancer Society materials [60].

Learn more about how rates of screening mammography vary among different groups of women.

Health insurance

Women who don’t have health insurance are much less likely to get mammograms than women with health insurance.

In 2018 (most recent data available):

Has health insurance? Percentage of women ages 50-74 who had a mammogram within the past 2 years
Yes 75%
No 39%
Adapted from American Cancer Society materials [60].

The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans (since September 2010) to cover mammograms (with no co-payment) every 1-2 years for women ages 40 and older [78].

Learn about Medicare, Medicaid and insurance company coverage of mammograms and find resources for low-cost or free mammograms.

Learn more about how rates of screening mammography vary among different groups of women.

Among women in the U.S., rates of breast cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (death) vary by race and ethnicity.  

Figure 1.7 

 Figure 1.7 and 2.3 Breast Cancer Incidence in U.S. By Race and Ethnicity

Source: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2017, 2020 [65]

White and black women have the highest breast cancer incidence overall [65]. American Indian and Alaska Native women have the lowest [65].    

Figure 1.8 

Figure 1.8 Female Breast Cancer Mortality by Race and Ethnicity

Source: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2017, 2020 [65]

Black women have the highest breast cancer mortality overall [65]. Asian and Pacific Islander women have the lowest [65].

In the drawers below, learn more about breast cancer incidence and mortality among women of different races and ethnicities.

Immigrants in the U.S. usually have breast cancer incidence (new cases) rates similar to those in their home country.

However, the daughters and granddaughters of immigrants tend to adopt American lifestyle behaviors. These may include things that increase breast cancer risk, such as being overweight or having children later in life.

So, over time, breast cancer incidence in the daughters and granddaughters of immigrants tends to become closer to overall incidence in the U.S.

Breast and ovarian cancer are somewhat more common among women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (women with ancestors from Central or Eastern Europe) than other women.

This is likely due to the high prevalence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 (Breast Cancer 1 and 2) gene mutations in these women.

Learn more about Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and breast cancer risk.

BRCA1/2 gene mutations and cancer risk

Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, but women who have an inherited mutation in either of these genes have an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer [79-83].

Men who have a BRCA2 gene mutation, and to a lesser degree men who have a BRCA1 mutation, have an increased risk of breast cancer [83-86].

Learn more about BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and the risk of breast and other cancers.

BRCA1/2 gene mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish women

Like other gene mutations, BRCA1/2 mutations are rare in the general U.S. population (about 1 in 400 people) [83].

However, about 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish people in the U.S. carry one of these mutations [83].

BRCA1/2 gene mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish women diagnosed with breast cancer

About 2 percent of women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer have a BRCA1/2 mutation [83].

Among Ashkenazi Jewish women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer, about 10 percent have a BRCA1/2 mutation [83].

Learn about genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations

Breast cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (death) rates are lower for Asian and Pacific Islander women than for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black women [65].

For example, from 2013-2017 (most recent data available) [65]:

  Asian and Pacific Islander Women White Women Black Women
Incidence
(new cases)
102.9 per 100,000 131.3 per 100,000 124.8 per 100,000
Mortality
(deaths)
11.4 per 100,000 19.8 per 100,000 27.6 per 100,000

 

Incidence (new cases)

The incidence of breast cancer in Asian and Pacific Islander women increased slightly from 2008-2017 (by one percent a year) [65].

Immigrants in the U.S. (including those from Asia) usually have breast cancer incidence rates similar to those in their home country.

However, the daughters and granddaughters of immigrants tend to adopt American lifestyle behaviors. These may include things that increase breast cancer risk, such as being overweight or having children later in life.

Over time, breast cancer incidence can become closer to incidence in the U.S. This may explain some of the increase in breast cancer incidence among Asian American women [87].

Breast cancer incidence rates vary among different Asian American ethnic groups [87]. For example, incidence is higher in Samoan American and Hawaiian women than in Chinese American and Vietnamese American women [87].

Mortality (death)

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Asian American women (lung cancer is the major cause of cancer death) [87].

However, breast cancer mortality rates vary among different Asian ethnic groups in the U.S. [88].

Breast cancer screening

Non-Hispanic Asian American women have slightly lower rates of breast cancer screening than non-Hispanic black women and non-Hispanic white women [60].

Learn more about breast cancer screening among Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women.  

Incidence (new cases)

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Black women [64].

In 2019, about 33,840 new cases of breast cancer were expected to occur among Black women [64].

Overall, breast cancer incidence among Black women is lower than among white women [65]. However, from 2013-2017 for women younger than 40, incidence is higher among non-Hispanic Black women than non-Hispanic white women [60].

The incidence of breast cancer in Black women increased slightly from 2008-2017 (by less than one percent a year) [65].

Age at diagnosis

Black women tend to be diagnosed at a younger age than white women [89].

The median age at diagnosis for Black women is 60, compared to 63 for white women [89].

The median is the middle value of a group of numbers, so about half of Black and African American women are diagnosed before age 60 and about half are diagnosed after age 60. Among white women, about half are diagnosed before age 63 and about half are diagnosed after age 63.

Mortality (death)

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among Black women (lung cancer is the major cause of cancer death) [64].

In 2019, about 6,540 breast cancer deaths were expected to occur among Black women [64].

Breast cancer mortality is about 39 percent higher in Black women than in white women [65].

Survival

Although breast cancer survival in Black women has increased over time, survival rates remain lower than among white women [90].

For those diagnosed from 2010-2016 (most recent data available), the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer among Black women was 83 percent compared to 93 percent among white women [90].

This means Black and African American women were 83 percent as likely as women in the general population to live 5 years beyond their breast cancer diagnosis. White women were 93 percent as likely as women in the general population to live 5 years beyond diagnosis.

There are many possible reasons for this difference in survival including [64,91-93]:

  • Differences in tumor biology and tumor genetics
  • Prevalence of risk factors (including overweight and obesity)
  • Barriers to quality health care access (including a lack of health insurance)
  • Health behaviors (including not completing treatment)
  • Later stage of breast cancer at diagnosis

Learn about a healthy lifestyle and breast cancer survival.

Learn about Komen’s African American Health Equity Initiative: From Education to Impact.

Breast cancer screening

Non-Hispanic Black women have slightly higher rates of breast cancer screening rates than other women [60].

Learn more about breast cancer screening among Black and African American women  

Breast cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (death) rates for Hispanic/Latina women are lower than for non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic black women [65].

For example, from 2013-2017 (most recent data available) [65]:

  Hispanic Women White Women Black Women
Incidence
(new cases)
99.1 per 100,000 131.3 per 100,000 124.8 per 100,000
Mortality
(deaths)
14.0 per 100,000 19.8 per 100,000 27.6 per 100,000

 

Incidence (new cases)

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Hispanic/Latina women [94].

In 2018, an estimated 24,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed among Hispanic/Latina women in the U.S. [94].

The incidence of breast cancer in Hispanic/Latina women increased slightly from 2008-2017 (by about ½ percent a year) [65].

Mortality (death)

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Hispanic/Latina women [94].

In 2018, about 3,200 breast cancer deaths were expected to occur among Hispanic/Latina women in the U.S. [94].

Survival

Hispanic/Latina women may be less likely than non-Hispanic white women to get appropriate and timely breast cancer care [94]. However, whether this affects breast cancer survival in Hispanic/Latina is not known at this time [94].

Breast cancer screening

Hispanic women have slightly lower rates of breast cancer screening than non-Hispanic black women and non-Hispanic white women [60].

Hispanic/Latina women tend to be diagnosed with later stage breast cancers than non-Hispanic white women [94]. This may be due to lower mammography rates as well as delays in follow-up after an abnormal mammogram [94].

Learn more about breast cancer screening among Hispanic/Latina women.

Breast cancer rates tend to be lower in American Indian and Alaska Native women than women in other ethnic groups [65].

For example, from 2013-2017 (most recent data available ) [65]: 

  American Indian and
Alaska Native Women
White Women Black Women
Incidence
(new cases)
79.5 per 100,000 131.3 per 100,000 124.8 per 100,000
Mortality
(deaths)
14.6 per 100,000 19.8 per 100,000 27.6 per 100,000

 

Incidence (new cases)

Breast cancer incidence varies depending on where American Indian and Alaska Native women live.

Women who live in Alaska and the Southern Plains have the highest rates of breast cancer incidence and women who live in the East and the Southwest have the lowest [60,95].

Mortality (death)

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American Indian and Alaska Native women (lung cancer is the major cause of cancer death) [57].

Breast cancer mortality varies depending on where American Indian and Alaska Native women live. Women who live in Alaska and the Southern Plains have the highest mortality rates and women who live in the Southwest have the lowest [96].

Breast cancer screening

Although data are limited, non-Hispanic American Indian and non-Hispanic Alaska Native women have slightly lower rates of breast cancer screening than non-Hispanic black women and non-Hispanic white women [60].

Learn more about breast cancer screening among American Indian and Alaska Native women

Gay, lesbian and bisexual women

Breast cancer rates

Although lesbians and bisexual women tend to have an increased risk of breast cancer, it’s not because of their sexual orientation.

Rather, the increased risk of breast cancer is linked to risk factors that tend to be more common in lesbians such as never having children or having them later in life, obesity and alcohol use [97-100].

Breast cancer screening

Some findings show the rates of screening mammography among lesbians and bisexual women and heterosexual women are similar [101].

Some data even show screening mammography rates are higher among gay and lesbian women compared to straight women [60]. In 2018 (most recent data available) [60]:

  • 79 percent of gay and lesbian women ages 50-74 had a mammogram in the past 2 years
  • 73 percent of straight women ages 50-74 had a mammogram in the past 2 years 

However, some lesbians and bisexual women may not get regular mammograms. This may be due to [102]:

  • Lack of health insurance
  • Perceived low risk of breast cancer
  • Past discrimination or insensitivity from health care providers
  • Low level of trust of providers

One step you can take is to find a provider who is sensitive to your needs. Getting a referral from a trusted friend may help.

Regular provider visits offer the chance to discuss your risk of breast cancer, get breast cancer screening and get other health care.

Transgender people

Data on breast cancer among transgender men (female sex assigned at birth, male gender identity) and transgender women (male sex assigned at birth, female gender identity) are limited.

One small study compared breast cancer rates among transgender people who had hormone treatments, with or without surgery as part of their transition, to breast cancer rates in the general population [103]. These early findings suggested [103]:

  • Transgender men had a much lower risk of breast cancer than women in the general population, but a higher risk than men in the general population.
  • Transgender women had a much lower risk of breast cancer than women in the general population, but a higher risk than men in the general population.

There’s still much to learn about the risk of breast cancer in transgender people. If you are transgender, talk with your health care provider about your risk of breast cancer.

All women are at risk for breast cancer.

The main risk factors for breast cancer are:

  • Being female
  • Getting older

The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. Most breast cancers and breast cancer deaths occur in women 50 and older [60]. 

The overall median age at diagnosis for women in the U.S. is 62 [89]. 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.

Learn more about age and breast cancer risk.

Women younger than 40

About 4 percent of breast cancers occur in women younger than 40 [60].

However, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death (death from any type of cancer) among women ages 20-39 [104].

Genetic factors can put some women at a higher risk of breast cancer. Women diagnosed younger than 40 may have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. These inherited gene mutations increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Learn more about BRCA1, BRCA2 and other inherited gene mutations and breast cancer risk.

Learn about breast cancer screening for women at higher risk due to a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

Learn about unique issues for younger women diagnosed with breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in pregnant and postpartum women [105]. It occurs most often between ages 32-38 [105]. 

About one case of breast cancer per 3,000 pregnancies is diagnosed each year [105].

When women are pregnant or breastfeeding, their breasts are naturally more tender and enlarged. This may make it harder to find a lump or notice other changes.

Learn more about breast cancer during pregnancy.  

It takes time to carefully collect, sort and analyze data. So, often, the “most recent data available” are several years old.

The larger the amount of data involved, the longer the process can take. For example, when researchers collect data from many different states or countries, rather than from one hospital, it takes much longer.

Sometimes, researchers need to collect data over many years.

Say researchers want to learn about survival 5 years after a breast cancer diagnosis. They must collect data on women diagnosed this year and then wait 5 years to collect the data on 5-year survival. Only then can they begin to sort and analyze the data.

So, when you see the most recent data are from 2016 or 2017, it doesn’t mean the data are “old.” It simply means it took time to carefully collect the data, do the analyses and prepare the findings.