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 across the U.S. and around the world.

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

Women

In 2021, it’s estimated among women in the U.S. there will be [132]:

  • 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not breast cancer recurrences.)
  • 49,290 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a non-invasive breast cancer
  • 43,600 breast cancer deaths

Men

In 2021, it’s estimated among men in the U.S. there will be [132]:

  • 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancers, but not breast cancer recurrences.)
  • 530 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 2021, it’s estimated among men in the U.S. there will be [132]:

  • 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancers, but not breast cancer recurrences.)
  • 530 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

Male breast cancer incidence in the U.S. varies by race and ethnicity.

Black men have the highest breast cancer incidence overall [140]. Hispanic men have the lowest [140].

For example, in 2018 (most recent data available) [140]:

 

Black
men

White
men

Asian and Pacific Islander
men

Hispanic
men

Incidence
(new cases)

1.9 per 100,000

1.3 per 100,000

0.8 per 100,000

0.6 per 100,000

Black men also have higher breast cancer mortality than white and Hispanic men [141].

For example, in 2018 (most recent data available) [141]:

 

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 [142]. 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 63) [142].

The median age of breast cancer diagnosis for men varies by race and ethnicity.

For example, Black men tend to be diagnosed at a younger age than white men [142]. The median age at diagnosis for Black men is 64, compared to 69 for white men [142].

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. This is called de novo metastatic breast cancer. In the U.S., 9 percent of men have metastases when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer [148].

Learn more about metastatic breast cancer.

Breast cancer rates in men over time

From 2000-2018 (most recent data available), breast cancer incidence in men remained stable [138].

From 2002-2018 (most recent data available), breast cancer mortality in men declined slightly, by less than one percent per year [149].

Learn more about male breast cancer.

Learn about treatment for male breast cancer.

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 increased over time, breast cancer rates were fairly stable.

Learn about breast cancer statistics for 2021.

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 100 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 2021, it’s estimated among women there will be [132]:

  • 100 breast cancer deaths in Washington, D.C.
  • 720 breast cancer deaths in Alabama
  • 4,730 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 (or survival), we need to look at mortality rates.

In 2021, the estimated mortality rates are [132]:

  • 26 per 100,000 women in Washington, D.C.
  • 22 per 100,000 women in Alabama
  • 19 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, Connecticut, Washington D.C. and Hawaii have the highest breast cancer incidence rates [132]. Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming have the lowest incidence rates [132].

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, 2013-2017

State

Rate of Invasive Breast Cancer
(per 100,000 women)

State

Rate of Invasive Breast Cancer
(per 100,000 women)

United States

126

Missouri

131

Alabama

122

Montana

129

Alaska

120

Nebraska

127

Arizona

114

Nevada

110

Arkansas

118

New Hampshire

145

California

122

New Jersey

137

Colorado

128

New Mexico

112

Connecticut

141

New York

133

Delaware

135

North Carolina

134

District of Columbia

139

North Dakota

129

Florida

118

Ohio

129

Georgia

127

Oklahoma

123

Hawaii

139

Oregon

126

Idaho

127

Pennsylvania

132

Illinois

133

Rhode Island

138

Indiana

123

South Carolina

130

Iowa

129

South Dakota

128

Kansas

126

Tennessee

123

Kentucky

127

Texas

113

Louisiana

126

Utah

114

Maine

127

Vermont

131

Maryland

133

Virginia

127

Massachusetts

138

Washington

134

Michigan

123

West Virginia

118

Minnesota

133

Wisconsin

132

Mississippi

118

Wyoming

113

Source: American Cancer Society, 2021 [132]

The breast cancer incidence rate for Puerto Rico is 94 cases per 100,000 women [132].

Mortality

Figure 1.6 (below) shows breast cancer mortality rates for each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C., Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma have the highest breast cancer mortality rates [132]. Hawaii, Connecticut and Massachusetts have the lowest breast cancer mortality rate [132].

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, 2014-2018

State

Rate of Breast Cancer Mortality
(per 100,000 women)

State

Rate of Breast Cancer Mortality
(per 100,000 women)

United States

20

Missouri

21

Alabama

22

Montana

19

Alaska

19

Nebraska

20

Arizona

19

Nevada

22

Arkansas

20

New Hampshire

18

California

19

New Jersey

21

Colorado

19

New Mexico

20

Connecticut

17

New York

19

Delaware

21

North Carolina

21

District of Columbia

26

North Dakota

18

Florida

19

Ohio

22

Georgia

22

Oklahoma

23

Hawaii

16

Oregon

20

Idaho

22

Pennsylvania

21

Illinois

21

Rhode Island

18

Indiana

21

South Carolina

22

Iowa

19

South Dakota

19

Kansas

20

Tennessee

22

Kentucky

21

Texas

20

Louisiana

23

Utah

20

Maine

18

Vermont

18

Maryland

22

Virginia

22

Massachusetts

17

Washington

20

Michigan

21

West Virginia

22

Minnesota

18

Wisconsin

19

Mississippi

23

Wyoming

18

Source: American Cancer Society, 2021 [132]

The breast cancer mortality rate for Puerto Rico is 18 deaths per 100,000 women [132].

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 in 2020 [129].

Breast cancer incidence rates around the world vary

In general, rates of breast cancer are higher in developed countries (such as the U.S., England and Australia) than in developing countries (such as Cambodia, Nepal and Rwanda) [129]. 

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) [129

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 [75,129].

Although we don’t know all the reasons for these differences, lifestyle and reproductive factors likely play a large role [75,130].

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) [129

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 in most countries in the world [130].

It’s estimated more than 680,000 breast cancer deaths occurred worldwide among women and men in 2020 [129].

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) [75,131].

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) [75,131].

Prevalence

It’s estimated there were more than 168,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. in 2020 (most recent estimate available) [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. This is 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 [148].

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 [152].

An oncologist can give some information about prognosis (chances for survival), but they don’t know exactly how long someone will live.

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.

When you see a survival rate, it’s important to understand the differences between these measures. 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 [153]. By 2000, mammography use increased to 70 percent [153].

Since 2000, there has been a slight decline in mammography use for reasons that remain unknown [153].

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) [60,153]. 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 [60,153].

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

Black

74%

White

73%

Hispanic

71%

Asian American

71%

American Indian and Alaska Native

66%

Adapted from American Cancer Society materials [153].

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 [154].

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 more common among women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (women with ancestors from Central or Eastern Europe) than among other women.

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

Learn more about Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and breast cancer risk.

BRCA1/2 inherited 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 [79-83,155].

Men who have a BRCA2 inherited gene mutation, and to a lesser degree men who have a BRCA1 inherited gene mutation, have an increased risk of breast cancer [83-86,155].

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

BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish women

Like other gene mutations, BRCA1/2 inherited mutations are rare in the general U.S. population (about 1 in 400 people) [155].

However, about 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish people in the U.S. carry one of these gene mutations [155].

BRCA1/2 inherited 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 inherited gene mutation [155].

Among Ashkenazi Jewish women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer, about 10 percent have a BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutation [155].

Learn about genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 inherited gene 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 2014-2018 by 1½ percent a year [151].

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 may 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].

From 2014-2018 (most recent data available), breast cancer mortality declined for Asian American women by about one percent per year [150].

Breast cancer screening

Asian American women have slightly lower rates of screening mammography than Black women and white women [152].

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 (most recent data available), 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 2014-2018 (by less than one percent a year) [151].

Age at diagnosis

Black women tend to be diagnosed at a younger age than white women [142].

The median age at diagnosis for Black women is 60, compared to 64 for white women [142].

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 64 and about half are diagnosed after age 64.

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 (most recent data available), about 6,540 breast cancer deaths were expected to occur among Black women [64].

From 2014-2018 (most recent data available), breast cancer mortality declined for Black women by 1½ percent per year [150].

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 [156].

For those diagnosed from 2011-2017 (most recent data available), the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer among Black women was 82 percent compared to 91 percent among white women [156].

This means Black and African American women were 82 percent as likely as women in the general population to live 5 years beyond their breast cancer diagnosis. White women were 91 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 healthy lifestyle behaviors and breast cancer survival.

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

Breast cancer screening

Black women have slightly higher rates of screening mammography rates than other women [152].

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 (most recent data available), 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 2014-2018 (by less than one percent a year) [151].

Mortality (death)

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

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

Breast cancer mortality in Hispanic/Latina women decreased slightly from 2014-2018 (by about one percent a year) [150].

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 screening mammography than Black women and white women [152].

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].

The incidence of breast cancer in American Indian and Alaska Native women increased slightly from 2014-2018 (by less than ½ percent a year) [151].

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) [132].

Breast cancer mortality in American Indian and Alaska Native women decreased slightly from 2014-2018 (by about one percent a year) [150].

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 mortality rates [96].

Breast cancer screening

Although data are limited, American Indian and Alaska Native women have slightly lower rates of breast cancer screening mammography than Black women and white women [152].

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 [97-100,157].

Breast cancer screening

Screening mammography rates among lesbians and bisexual women are similar to or higher than screening mammography rates among heterosexual women [60,101,152].

In 2018 (most recent data available) [60,152]:

  • 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 lesbian and bisexual women may not get regular mammograms. This may be due to [102,158-159]:

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

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

Regular visits to a health care provider offer the chance to discuss your risk of breast cancer, and get breast cancer screening and other needed 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 born 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 63 [142]. The median is the middle value of a group of numbers, so about half of women are diagnosed before age 63 and about half are diagnosed after age 63. The median age at diagnosis for U.S. women varies by race and 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 [133].

Genetic factors can put some women at a higher risk of breast cancer. Women diagnosed younger than 40 may have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 inherited 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 inherited 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 in 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 in the breasts.

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 2017 or 2018, 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.

 Updated 06/08/21