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How Many Women Get Breast Cancer

What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

Why Are So Many Young Women Getting Breast Cancer?

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease. Different cancers have different risk factors.

However, having a cancer risk factor, or even several of them, does not necessarily mean that a person will get cancer. Some women with one or more breast cancer risk factors never develop breastcancer, while about half of women with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors.

Significantly higher risk

  • History. A woman with a history of cancer in one breast, such as ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive breast cancer, is three to four times likelier to develop a new breast cancer, unrelated to the first one, in either the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is different than a recurrence of the previous breast cancer.
  • Age. Your risk for breast cancer increases as you age. About 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are ages 45 or older, and about 43% are ages 65 or above. Consider this: In women ages 40 to 50, there is a one in 69 risk of developing breast cancer. From ages 50 to 60, that risk increases to one in 43. In the 60 to 70 age group, the risk is one in 29. In women ages 70 and older, one in 26 is at risk of developing the disease.

Moderately higher risk

Slightly higher risk

Low risk

  • Less lifetime exposure to endogenous estrogen. Having a pregnancy before age 18, starting menopause early, and having the ovaries removed before age 37 decreases the risk of developing breast cancer.

How Has The Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Changed In Recent Years

For a woman born in the 1970s in the United States, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, based on breast cancer statistics from that time, was just under 10% .

The last five annual SEER Cancer Statistics Review reports show the following estimates of lifetime risk of breast cancer, all very close to a lifetime risk of 1 in 8:

  • 12.83%, based on statistics for 2014 through 2016
  • 12.44%, based on statistics for 2013 through 2015
  • 12.41%, based on statistics for 2012 through 2014
  • 12.43%, based on statistics for 2011 through 2013
  • 12.32%, based on statistics for 2010 through 2012

SEER statisticians expect some variability from year to year. Slight changes may be explained by a variety of factors, including minor changes in risk factor levels in the population, slight changes in breast cancer screening rates, or just random variability inherent in the data.

Selected Reference
  • Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al. . SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 19752017, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, , based on November 2019 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2020.

  • Related Resources
    • Reviewed:December 16, 2020

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    Mammography And Rates Of Early Detection Over Time

    Mammography screening became widely available in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s. During this time, diagnoses of early stage breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ , increased greatly . This was likely due to the increased use of mammography screening during this time period .

    Among women 50 and older, rates of DCIS increased from 7 cases per 100,000 women in 1980 to 83 cases per 100,000 women in 2008 . From 2012-2016, rates of DCIS declined by about 2 percent per year .

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    What Is The Average American Womans Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer During Her Lifetime

    Based on current incidence rates, 12.9% of women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at some time during their lives . This estimate, from the most recent SEER Cancer Statistics Review , is based on breast cancer statistics for the years 2015 through 2017.

    This estimate means that, if the current incidence rate stays the same, a woman born today has about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. On the other hand, the chance that she will never have breast cancer is 87.1%, or about 7 in 8.

    For men born in the United States today, the lifetime risk of breast cancer is 0.13%, based on breast cancer statistics for the years 2015 through 2017. This means that a man born today has about a 1 in 800 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during his life.

    Estimated Cases And Deaths In 2019


    In 2019, approximately 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 48,100 cases of DCIS will be diagnosed among US women, and 41,760 women will die from this disease. Eighty-two percent of breast cancers are diagnosed among women aged â¥50 years, and 90% of breast cancer deaths occur in this age group . The median age at diagnosis for female breast cancer is 62 years, and it is slightly younger for black women than for white women . The median age at breast cancer death is 68 years overall, 70 years for white women, and 63 years for black women.

    AGE, Y
    â1.0b The black:white rate ratio is significantly different from 1.00 or the AAPC is significantly different from 0.0 . 70 78
    • Abbreviations: AAPC, average annual percent change ACS, American Cancer Society NHB, non-Hispanic black NHW, non-Hispanic white.
    • Note: Incidence and mortality rates are per 100,000 and are age-adjusted to the 2000 US standard population. Statistics not shown if there ⤠25 cases or deaths.
    • a Up to date according to ACS screening guideline: mammogram within the past year for women ages 45 to 54 years or in the past 2 years for women aged â¥55 years.
    • b The black:white rate ratio is significantly different from 1.00 or the AAPC is significantly different from 0.0 .
    • c Data from these registries are not included in US combined rates.

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    How Does Your Age Affect Treatment

    Your doctor will help you choose the most effective breast cancer treatment based on the type, stage, and grade of your tumor. Treatments are generally the same for women of all ages, but a few exceptions exist.

    Drugs called aromatase inhibitors arent recommended for women who havent yet gone through menopause. These drugs treat estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by blocking the enzyme aromatase. Aromatase converts the hormone androgen into estrogen. Without estrogen, the tumor cant grow. Women who havent gone through menopause still produce estrogen in their ovaries. This means that aromatase inhibitors will only work if you also take medicine to stop your ovaries from making estrogen.

    If medically feasible, you may opt for a more conservative surgery, such as a lumpectomy. This removes the tumor but keeps the breast intact. Chemotherapy, radiation, or both are usually necessary after a lumpectomy. If you need to have a mastectomy, which removes the whole breast, you can ask your surgeon to preserve your nipple. If you plan to have plastic surgery afterward to reconstruct your breast, this can enable your plastic surgeon to create a more natural looking breast.

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    Breast Cancer In Young Women

    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. About 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer during her life.

    Although breast cancer mostly occurs among older women, in rare cases breast cancer does affect women under the age of 45. About 9% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

    Breast cancer in young women is

    • More likely to be hereditary than breast cancer in older women.
    • More likely to be found at a later stage, and is often more aggressive and difficult to treat.
    • Often coupled with unique issues, including concerns about body image, fertility, finances, and feelings of isolation.

    All women are at risk for getting breast cancer, but some things can raise a womans risk for getting breast cancer before age 45. Learning what factors increase your chance of getting breast cancer is an important first step in assessing your risk. Learning the symptoms of breast cancer also may also help you know when to talk to your doctor.

    Many women who have a mastectomy have the option of having the shape of the removed breast rebuilt.external icon

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    How Else Can I Reduce My Risk For Cancer

    The following may help reduce the risk of developing cancer:

    • Choose a healthy diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and eat less red and processed meats. These actions may reduce the risk of developing many types of cancer and other diseases.
    • Do not smoke. If you currently smoke, quit. Avoid exposure to second hand smoke. For more information on quitting smoking, visit the NYS Smoker’s Quitline at or call 1-866-NY-QUITS.
    • Talk with your health care provider about recommended screenings for other types of cancer.

    Take Action To Change Young Adult Breast Cancer Statistics

    One huge reason why so many black women get breast cancer!

    When all young adults affected by breast cancer work together, we can raise awareness, improve our representation in research and make each other stronger. We are dedicated to these goals, working to turn our unique challenges into opportunities for shared success. Join the movement! Become an advocate for young women with breast cancer.

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    Your Personal History Of Breast Cancer

    If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, you are more likely to develop a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is not considered a recurrence but a new breast cancer.

    What to do: Follow your cancer teams instructions on monitoring to stay on top of this risk. Ask your doctor whether you should see a genetic counselor.

    What About Screening For Breast Cancer

    Evidence clearly indicates that women between the ages of 50 and 69 should have a mammogram every two years. Talk to your health care provider about the organized breast screening program in your province or territory. If you are 40-49 years of age or aged 70 or older, you are encouraged to discuss the benefits and limitations of mammography with your health care provider.

    The booklet âInformation on Mammography for Women Aged 40 and Older: A Decision Aid for Breast Cancer Screening in Canadaâ is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada – Decision Aids website.

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    Breast Biopsy Questions Answered

    Getting a breast biopsy? You might be wondering what it is and how it works.

    A breast biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which a doctor removes a small amount of breast tissue to examine under a microscope. If the tissue sample shows cancer, the physician can have it analyzed further to provide the most accurate diagnosis a critical first step in getting patients the best treatment possible for their particular type of breast cancer.

    A biopsy may be ordered when a mammogram or other breast imaging reveals an abnormality or you feel a lump in your breast, or when a physician notices something suspicious during a clinical exam.

    We spoke with , to learn more. Heres what she had to say.

    What are the types of breast biopsies, and how are they different?

    There are two basic types of breast biopsy: surgical and needle. A breast biopsy done surgically through an incision in the skin is called a surgical breast biopsy. A breast biopsy done by inserting a needle through the skin is called a breast needle biopsy.

    There are two main types of breast needle biopsy:

    • fine needle aspiration, which uses a thin, hollow needle attached to a syringe, and
    • core needle biopsy, which uses a larger needle that removes a small, tube-shaped piece of tissue with a spring-loaded device or a vacuum-assisted device.

    How painful is each kind of biopsy, and how long does it take to recover?

    Do any breast biopsies require general anesthesia or an overnight stay in the hospital?

    Benefits Of Mammographic Screening

    BREAST CANCER: The nightmare facing many women

    The ACS systematic review also examined the effect of screening mammography on life expectancy. Although the review concluded that there was high-quality evidence that mammographic screening increases life expectancy by decreasing breast cancer mortality, the authors were not able to estimate the size of the increase 23.

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    % Of This Type Of Cancer Occurs In Women Over The Age Of 50

    Genetics and family history may determine the likelihood of getting the Big C. If a close relative has it, the risk of you contracting it is high. That said, breast cancers are common, and a majority of them are not hereditary. The possibility of breast cancer may arise if you had benign breast lumps.

    They include atypical ductal hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma. There is a likelihood of them metastasizing if they develop again. Further, women with high levels of estrogen are more likely than their peers to have breast tumors. If you had your periods earlier than other women your age, be alert to this.

    How heavy you are may decide whether you get breast cancer or not. Obese menopausal women are more likely than their slimmer peers to develop growths in their mammary glands. They tend to produce higher levels of estrogen.

    An interesting point to note is that taller women are more prone to breast cancer than shorter ones, though experts still need to establish the reason for this. Women who consume more alcohol have a higher risk than others of developing breast cancer.

    If you want to kick cancer to the curb, take no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

    Breast cancer raises its ugly head because of increased levels of estrogen and progesterone in the female body.

    Fact : There Is A Breast Cancer Susceptibility Window Before The First Full Term Pregnancy

    Breast cancer surgeon, Angela Lanfranchi, MD, in collaboration with the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, has contributed to a much greater understanding of normal breast development, as well as the pathophysiological mechanisms that lead to breast cancer.

    A distinctive feature of the female breast is that this organ is not fully developed at birth. There is, of course, breast enlargement in girls at puberty, and this tissue is primarily stromal, or support tissue. However, between puberty and the FFTP, there is a susceptibility windowa time when the breast is most susceptible to forming cancer . This susceptibility occurs because the breast is composed primarily of Type 1 and Type 2 lobules.

    Under the microscope, Type 1 and Type 2 lobules appear as twigs of a tree. Type 3 and Type 4 appear more like a cluster of grapes. Type 1 lobules account for 85 percent of all breast cancers, and Type 2 account for 12 percent of these cancers. Type 1 and Type 2 lobules have a higher density of hormone receptors, making them more susceptible to hormone stimulation that can result in cancer mutations.

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    Types Of Breast Cancer

    There are several different types of breast cancer, which develop in different parts of the breast.

    Breast cancer is often divided into either:

    • non-invasive breast cancer found in the ducts of the breast which has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. Non-invasive breast cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.
    • invasive breast cancer where the cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.

    Other, less common types of breast cancer include:

    • invasive lobular breast cancer
    • inflammatory breast cancer

    It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the blood or the axillary lymph nodes. These are small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland.

    If this happens, it’s known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer.

    Breast Changes To Watch

    New study shows how many women over 40 develop breast cancer

    Watch for changes to your breasts, and if you notice any of the following, see your doctor:

    • A lump in or near your breast or under your arm
    • Changes in the size or shape of your breast
    • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
    • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple
    • Skin redness, soreness, rash
    • Swelling
    • Nipple discharge

    Normal breast tissue may be lumpy, which is why it is important to know how your breasts normally feel. Most lumps are not cancer. Many women choose to perform breast self-exams so they will know if a new lump appears or an existing lump changes size. However, breast self-exams are not a substitute for mammograms.

    These changes may not necessarily indicate that you have breast cancer, but they could and should be evaluated.

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    Health Disparities In Young African Americans

    In addition to these unique issues, research has shown that young African American women face even greater challenges.

    • African American women under age 35 have rates of breast cancer two times higher than caucasian women under age 35.14
    • African Americans under age 35 die from breast cancer three times as often as caucasian women of the same age.14
    • Researchers believe that access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare available may explain these disparities. But scientists continue to investigate.
    • Research also shows that young African Americans are more likely to get aggressive forms of breast cancer than anyone else.14

    What Is The Average American Womans Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer At Different Ages

    Many women are more interested in the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at specific ages or over specific time periods than in the risk of being diagnosed at some point during their lifetime. Estimates by decade of life are also less affected by changes in incidence and mortality rates than longer-term estimates. The SEER report estimates the risk of developing breast cancer in 10-year age intervals . According to the current report, the risk that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer during the next 10 years, starting at the following ages, is as follows:

    • Age 30 . . . . . . 0.49%
    • Age 40 . . . . . . 1.55%
    • Age 50 . . . . . . 2.40%
    • Age 60 . . . . . . 3.54%
    • Age 70 . . . . . . 4.09%

    These risks are averages for the whole population. An individual womans breast cancer risk may be higher or lower depending on known factors, as well as on factors that are not yet fully understood. To calculate an individual womans estimated breast cancer risk, health professionals can use the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, which takes into account several known breast cancer risk factors.

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