What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.


Facts about breast cancer in the United States:

• In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S., as well as 49,290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

• 63 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage (there is no sign the cancer has spread outside of the breast), for which the 5-year survival rate is 99 percent.

• This year, about 43,600 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S.

• Although rare, men get breast cancer too. In 2021, an estimated 2,650 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. and about 530 will die.

• 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It is estimated that in 2021, about 30 percent of all new women cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer.

• There are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

• On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.


A global burden

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.


But there’s good news about breast cancer:

• In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, there has been a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older.

• Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness and continually improving treatment options.

 * Star Beacon staff writer Shelley Terry collected these facts and figures from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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