How Common Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 12%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease. 

Current year estimates for breast cancer

The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2017 are: 

  • About 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. 
  • About 63,410 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer). 
  • About 40,610 women will die from breast cancer.

Trends in breast cancer incidence

In recent years, incidence rates have been the same in white and African American women. Breast cancer is more common in these women, compared to women of other races/ethnicities.

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 37 (about 2.7%).

Death rates from female breast cancer dropped 39% from 1989 to 2015. Since 2007, breast cancer death rates have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women.

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 3.1 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 the section on breast cancer survival rates by stage.

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

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2017-2018. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2017.

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2017. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2017.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Bishop K, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2014/, based on November 2016 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2017.

Lifetime Risk (Percent) of Dying from Cancer by Site and Race/Ethnicity: Females, Total US, 2010-2012 (Table 1.20) http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2012/browse_csr.php?sectionSEL=1&pageSEL=sect_01_table.20.html.2014. Accessed August 9, 2017.

Last Medical Review: July 1, 2017 Last Revised: September 22, 2017

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