What is the incidence of breast cancer?
In 2009 there were 48,417 new cases of breast cancer in women in the UK, and 371 in men.
|Estimated risk at birth up to and including:||UK (2008)|
|age 29||1 in 2,000|
|age 39||1 in 215|
|age 49||1 in 50|
|age 59||1 in 22|
|age 69||1 in 13|
|Life time risk||1 in 8|
How does age affect incidence rates of breast cancer?
The incidence of breast cancer increases with age. Eighty per cent of cases occur in post-menopausal women. The risk of developing breast cancer continues to rise as women get older.
Breast cancer is extremely rare in women in their teens or early twenties and uncommon in women under 35. After this age the risk begins to increase, rising sharply after the menopause.
What is the worldwide picture?
In 2008 it was estimated that worldwide, 1.38 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, accounting for around a tenth (10.9 per cent) of all new cancers and nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of all female cancer cases. Female breast cancer incidence rates vary considerably, with the highest rates in Europe and the lowest rates in Africa and Asia.
How many people die from breast cancer in the UK?
11,556 women and 77 men died from breast cancer in 2010.
What are the survival rates in England?
The five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed 2001-2006 in England (period estimates) was 82 per cent.
The stage at which a woman has breast cancer diagnosed greatly influences her survival chances. In general, the earlier the detection, the greater the chance of survival.
For more detailed statistics see Cancer Research UK.
What are the causes of breast cancer?
It is not clear exactly what causes breast cancer but it is thought that there are many risk factors, some already well established and some still being investigated. Age is strongly linked with breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer increases with age. Two breast cancer genes have been identified; BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes have been found in approximately 85 per cent of families with four or more cases of breast cancer diagnosed under the age of 60. However, only about five per cent of all breast cancer cases (fewer than 2000 per year) are thought to be caused by breast cancer genes. This was the subject of the MARIBS trial.
There is a higher risk of breast cancer in the south of England and in Wales than in the north of the UK. The risk of breast cancer also appears to be higher in women from more affluent backgrounds. There is an increase in risk when people move from low risk to high risk countries. For example, Japanese immigrants to the USA increase their risk of breast cancer and acquire incidence rates similar to the American population within two generations. This suggests that risk may be linked to environmental and behavioural factors.
What are the risk factors?
Known risk factors for breast cancer are:
- being female
- increasing age
- previous history of breast cancer
- having proven benign breast disease in the past
- not breastfeeding long term
- current use of hormone replacement therapy
- having a family history of breast cancer
- having no children or few children
- having children at late ages (especially over 30)
- early puberty
- having a later menopause
- obesity (for post-menopausal women only)
- high consumption of alcohol
For more details about the risk factors see Cancer Research UK.
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- About breast screening
- What is breast screening?
- What does the NHS Breast Screening Programme do?
- What happens at a breast screening unit?
- Why are women under 50 not routinely invited?
- Are women screened over the age of 70?
- Screening women at higher risk
- Does breast screening save lives?
- Does breast screening have any risks?
- What is Digital Mammography?
- Research in breast screening
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