October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Cancer.net presents 2021 statistical updates

Oct. 1, 2021

More women are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other type of cancer, besides skin cancer. This year, an estimated 281,550 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and 49,290 women will be diagnosed with non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. From 2008 to 2017, invasive breast cancer in women increased by half a percent each year. An estimated 2,650 men in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year.

It is estimated that 44,130 deaths (43,600 women and 530 men) from breast cancer will occur this year. The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The average 5-year survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 90%. The average 10-year survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 84%.

If the invasive breast cancer is located only in the breast, the 5-year survival rate of women with this disease is 99%. Sixty-three percent (63%) of women with breast cancer are diagnosed with this stage. Adolescent and young adult females ages 15 to 39 in the United States are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage of breast cancer (47%) compared to women older than 65 (68%). This may be because most breast cancer screening does not begin until age 40 unless someone is at a higher risk.

If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 86%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 28%. Survival rates are about 9% to 10% lower in Black women compared to white women.

Six percent (6%) of women have cancer that has spread outside of the breast and regional lymph nodes at the time they are first diagnosed with breast cancer. This is called "de novo" metastatic breast cancer. Even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, new treatments help many people with breast cancer maintain a good quality of life for some time. Learn more about metastatic breast cancer in a separate guide on this website.

It is important to note that these statistics are averages, and each person’s chance of recovery depends on many factors, including the size of the tumor, the number of lymph nodes that contain cancer, and other features of the tumor that affect how quickly a tumor will grow and how well treatment works. This means that it can be difficult to estimate each individual's chance of survival.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States after lung cancer. However, the number of women who have died of breast cancer has decreased by 41% from 1989 to 2018 thanks to early detection and treatment improvements. As a result, more than 403,000 breast cancer deaths were prevented during that period.

Since 2007, the number of women age 50 and over who have died of breast cancer has continued to decrease. The number of women under age 50 who have died of breast cancer has stayed steady. From 2013 to 2018, the death rate for women with cancer dropped by 1% each year.

Currently, there are more than 3.8 million women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with breast cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States.

Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publications, Cancer Facts & Figures 2021 and Cancer Facts & Figures 2020; the ACS website; and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (sources accessed January 2021).

Visit cancer.net for more information