Breast Cancer

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What Is Breast Cancer? TOPICS

What are the key statistics about breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

Current year estimates for breast cancer

The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2016 are:

  • About 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 61,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,450 women will die from breast cancer.

Trends in breast cancer incidence

After increasing for more than 20 years, breast cancer incidence rates in women began decreasing in 2000, and dropped by about 7% from 2002 to 2003. This large decrease was thought to be because fewer women used hormone therapy after menopause after the results of the Women's Health Initiative were published in 2002. This study linked using hormone therapy to an increased risk of breast cancer and heart diseases.

In recent years, incidence rates have been stable in white women, but have increased slightly in African American women.

Trends in breast cancer deaths

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. (Only lung cancer kills more women each year.) The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 36 (about 3%).

Death rates from breast cancer have been dropping since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments.

Breast cancer survivors

At this time there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. (This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.) Survival rates are discussed in “Breast cancer survival rates, by stage.”

Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.


Last Medical Review: 06/01/2016
Last Revised: 08/18/2016