Breast Cancer Statistics

National Statistics

General Statistics

  • About 276,480 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2020. [1]
  • In 2017, there were an estimated 3,577,264 women living with breast cancer. [1]


Incidence Rates

  • Approximately 12.9% of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2015-2017 data. [1] This can also be expressed as 1 in 8 women.
  • Breast cancer occurs in men as well, accounting for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases in the United States. Since 1975, the incidence rate has increased slightly, from 1.0 cases per 100,000 men from 1975-1979 to 1.2 cases per 100,000 men from 2012-2016. [2]
  • Breast cancer incidence rates are highest among non-Hispanic White women, next highest for non-Hispanic Black women, followed by American Indian and Alaska Native women, then Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander. [2]


Mortality Rates

  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 38 or about 2.6%. [3]
  • An estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in 2020. [3]
  • Non-Hispanic Black women have the lowest cancer survival rate, despite having a lower incidence rate compared to non-Hispanic White women. This disparity may be due to a combination of factors including more aggressive tumor biology, later stage at diagnosis, higher prevalence of obesity and other health conditions, as well as the lack of access to optimal care and optimal treatment. [2]



Massachusetts Statistics

MA Incidence Rates

  • From 2009-2013, breast cancer was the most common type of cancer diagnosed among Massachusetts females, accounting for 29.4% of these women. [4]
  • In Massachusetts, from 2009 through 2013, there were 183,009 newly diagnosed cases of cancer, for an average annual age-adjusted incidence rate of 480.4 cases per 100,000 persons. [4]
  • In 2016, the incidence rate for female breast cancer in Massachusetts was 139.3 (per 100,000) and the national average was 124.2 (per 100,000), making the Massachusetts rate 15% higher than the national average. Massachusetts has the 2nd highest rate by state in the United States. [5]


MA Incidence Rates Compared to National Rates


Causes & Risk Factors

  • Ionizing radiation—including exposure from x-rays and CAT scans—is an established environmental risk factor for breast cancer. Many risk factors for breast cancer are related to exposure to estrogen and other hormones that play a role in a woman’s menstrual cycle. These risk factors include early menarche, late menopause, having children late in life, never having children, and never breastfeeding. Pharmaceutical hormones, such as HRT and DES, and behaviors that affect hormone levels—such as alcohol use and exercise—also affect risk. Women are at much higher risk than men, and the risk increases with age. Inherited genes, family history, and socioeconomic status are all associated with breast cancer risk.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of the disease. [7]
  • High-risk mutations in the breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) inherited from one’s mother or father only account for about 5-10% of breast cancers. [6]
  • In 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory which found there are 86,228 chemicals currently registered for commercial use in the United States. [8]


Breast Cancer Funding & Financial Burden

  • The estimated national costs of care for breast cancer is expected to reach $20.5 billion by 2020. [6]
  • The economic value of life lost due to premature death from breast cancer is estimated to reach $121 billion by the year 2020. [4]
  • There’s a low level of federal and NGO funding for breast cancer prevention and etiology research. Low funding levels in this area may be a result of a research funding strategy that is more focused on developing cures rather than on prevention. [4]