Statistics For Metastatic Breast Cancer
- 5% of persons initially diagnosed with breast cancer are stage IV at the initial diagnosis.
- 30% of breast cancer survivors eventually metastasize. According to one leading NCI researcher, that percentage should be 34%, but we do not have any published paper on that detail.
- Stage 0 patients also metastasize.
- Patients 30 and more years out from their original diagnosis metastasize
- 73,000 to 86,000 is the estimated combined total of persons diagnosed annually with metastatic breast cancer
- 150,000 to 250,000 were estimated to be living with metastatic breast cancer in 2005.
Length of Survival
- The 5-year survival rate stands at only 22%.
- Despite an enormous effort in the areas of prevention and early detection over the past 18 years, little has changed.
- An estimated 41,342 women died of MBC in 2019.
- An estimated 41,842 men and women will die of MBC in 2019
- The disease remains fatal for 97-99% of those diagnosed.
- Average survival continues to be only 18-24 months.
Breast Cancer Risk Before Menopause
A pooled analysis of data from 7 studies found higher blood estrogen levels increased breast cancer risk in premenopausal women .
Study selection criteria: Prospective nested case-control studies with at least 100 breast cancer cases, pooled analyses and meta-analyses.
Table note: Relative risks above 1 indicate increased risk. Relative risks below 1 indicate decreased risk.
This table shows breast cancer risk related to total estradiol levels.
Risk of Breast Cancer in Women with Higher Estradiol LevelsCompared to Women with Lower Estradiol LevelsRelative Risk
New York University Womens Health Study
Nurses Health Study II
Study of Osteoporosis Fractures Research Group
* Relative risk for estrogen receptor-positive and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancers was 2.8 . Relative risk for estrogen receptor-negative and progesterone receptor-negative breast cancers was 1.1 .
Relative risk for ER-positive cancers only. Relative risk for ER-negative breast cancers was 1.65 .
Results are for estradiol blood levels measured in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Results for estradiol levels measured in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle were not statistically significant.
|| Relative risk for women with higher levels of free estradiol compared to women with lower levels of free estradiol was 1.75 .
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.
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Myth #: If Youre Diagnosed With Metastatic Breast Cancer You Did Something Wrong Or Didnt Get The Right Treatment The First Time
When some people hear stage IV breast cancer, they assume something must have been missed along the way to let the cancer get that far. There is a misconception that breast cancer always develops in orderly steps from stages I to II, III, and then IV and that theres plenty of time to catch it early. People with MBC can face misguided assumptions that they must have skipped mammograms or self-exams, or they didnt control risk factors such as not exercising enough, watching their weight, or eating healthy. But a person can do everything right and still get MBC. Although regular screenings increase the odds of diagnosing breast cancer at an earlier stage, they cant guarantee it.
Another major misconception: If youre diagnosed with metastatic cancer after being treated for an early-stage breast cancer, you must have chosen the wrong treatment regimen or it wasnt aggressive enough. But between 20% and 30% of people with an earlier-stage breast cancer will eventually go on to develop MBC and theres often no good explanation as to why. And it can happen to anyone. Treatments can reduce the risk of recurrence, but they cant eliminate it.
As Illimae of Houston notes: that a stage IV diagnosis equals negligence on the part of the patient. In my case, it had spread before I ever felt a lump. I felt it Saturday and saw my doc on Monday, I ignored nothing, sometimes it just happens that fast.
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How Might Obesity Increase The Risk Of Cancer
Several possible mechanisms have been suggested to explain how obesity might increase the risks of some cancers.
Other possible mechanisms by which obesity could affect cancer risk include changes in the mechanical properties of the scaffolding that surrounds breast cells and altered immune responses, effects on the nuclear factor kappa beta system, and oxidative stress .
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Metastatic Breast Cancer Is Terminal
Metastatic breast cancer cant be cured and it is terminal. One thing I didnt know when I was first diagnosed is that breast cancer can only kill you if you have metastatic breast cancer, says Rosen, who explains that if your cancer remains in the breast, the tumor can be removed, but metastatic means it has spread outside the breast.
MBC is almost like a different disease than early-stage breast cancer, adds Ann Silberman, 60, from Sacramento, California, who was diagnosed in 2009. We are going to die. Our concerns are much different from those of a person who has a treatment that will be over . Someone in an earlier stage may worry about losing their hair which is understandable but they will return to their normal life at some point.
People with metastatic breast cancer expect to be on treatment for the rest of their lives. I dont think everyone understands that, Silberman says. I still get, When will your treatment be over? Well, its never going to be over.
Higher Death Rates Later
To conduct the analysis, Dr. Shu and her colleagues used information from the National Cancer Database to compare death rates for 16,025 men and 1,800,708 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2004 and 2014.
The National Cancer Database, which is sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society, includes more than 70% of newly diagnosed cancer cases in the United States.
In the study, men had higher death rates than women across all stages of breast cancer, even after the researchers adjusted for differences in patients clinical characteristics, such as the type and stage of disease, treatments received, age, race/ethnicity, and access to care.
In addition, the study found that a larger percentage of men than women were diagnosed with advanced-stage disease, which the researchers said could be attributed to a lack of awareness of and screening for breast cancer in men.
A higher percentage of men than women in the study had stage IV breast cancer at diagnosis , for example.
Despite having more aggressive disease overall, male patients were more likely than women to be undertreated, the researchers found. For instance, men were less likely than women to receive radiation therapy, including those who had breast-conserving surgery.
Clinical characteristics and undertreatment explained only about two-thirds of the difference in mortality. Hopefully, future studies will be able to identify additional factors, said Dr. Shu.
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What Are The Risk Factors For 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
- 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.
Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Over Time
Breast cancer mortality rates in the U.S. increased slowly from 1975 through the 1980s .
From 1989-2018 , the breast cancer mortality rate decreased by 41 percent due to improved breast cancer treatment and early detection . Since 1989, about 403,200 breast cancer deaths in U.S. women have been avoided .
The breast cancer mortality rate in women decreased by about one percent per year from 2014-2018 . Different breast cancer mortality rate trends may have been seen in some groups of women.
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Trends In Breast Cancer Deaths
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 39 .
Since 2007, breast cancer death rates have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women. From 2013 to 2018, the death rate went down by 1% per year.
These decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments.
Myth #: People With Metastatic Breast Cancer Look Sick And Lose Their Hair
You dont look sick. You look so well. Why do you still have your hair? Are you sure you have cancer? These are comments that people with MBC report hearing. But there are many treatment options besides chemotherapy, and people often appear well while taking them.
As NancyHB comments: Id much rather be a poster child for how sometimes we can live with, rather than die from, MBC at least for a while. Instead, I find myself defending against people who are increasingly becoming impatient with my lack of cancer-patient appearance. Im grateful for this time of feeling good, and theyre harshing my buzz.
Some people with MBC report that they actually look better than they feel while in treatment. So they sometimes have to let family and friends know that even though they appear fine, they dont feel well.
Shetland Pony notes: If she looks good, she is good. Nope. Many of us suffer from the invisible disability of fatigue. I would venture to say every available treatment causes us some level of fatigue. We struggle to keep up. It may look like we are doing the bare minimum when we are really giving it our all.
JoE777 of Texas adds: The new normals advertised about therapies on TV are deceiving about the side effects. They talk about side effects while women are skipping through life. not looking to show the harsh side effects but think there is something wrong with me that my life is not like that.
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Taking Charge: Who Gets Breast Cancer
There are no rules about who gets this disease. The two most significant risk factors are being a woman, and increasing age. However, there are other factors that may increase your risk, and some that may lower it.
The development of breast cancer may be influenced by factors that affect the levels of female hormones that circulate in your body throughout life. These factors include the age when you began your menstrual period, the number of times you have been pregnant, your age at first pregnancy, whether you have breastfed your children, and your level of physical activity.
Breast Cancer Statistics In Young Adults
Although breast cancer in young adults is rare, more than 250,000 living in the United States today were diagnosed under age 40. In young adults, breast cancer tends to be diagnosed in its later stages. It also tends to be more aggressive. Young adults have a higher mortality rate. As well as a higher risk of metastatic recurrence .
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What Causes Breast Cancer In Your 20s And 30s
Breast cancer happens when cells in the breast begin to grow and multiply abnormally. Changes in DNA can cause normal breast cells to become abnormal.
The exact reason why normal cells turn into cancer is unclear, but researchers know that hormones, environmental factors, and genetics each play a role.
Roughly 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to inherited gene mutations. The most well-known are breast cancer gene 1 and breast cancer gene 2 . If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, your doctor may suggest testing your blood for these specific mutations.
Breast cancer in your 20s and 30s has been found to differ biologically in some cases from the cancers found in older women. For example, younger women are more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative and HER2-positive breast cancers than older women.
Here are some statistics about breast cancer in women under 40:
Who Gets Breast Cancer
All women can get breast cancer. However, breast cancer is more common among older women. The risk for getting breast cancer increases with age. More than three-quarters of women who get breast cancer are over the age of 50. White women are more likely to get breast cancer than Black women, but, once they have the disease, Black women are more likely to die from it. Asian and Hispanic women are less likely to get breast cancer than White women or Black women. Also, women of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to get breast cancer. Scientists believe this may be related to having their first child at an older age, fewer pregnancies, diet and possible other characteristics shared by women in higher income groups.
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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
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or other hereditary breast and ovarian syndrome- associated cancer
Known deleterious gene mutation
Prior breast biopsy with specific pathology
Lobular carcinoma in situ
Prolonged interval between menarche and first pregnancy
Menopausal hormone therapy with estrogen and progestin
Higher body mass index
Prior exposure to high-dose therapeutic chest irradiation in young women
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Second Cancers After Breast Cancer
Breast cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often a major concern is facing cancer again. Cancer that comes back after treatment is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.
Women whove had breast cancer can still get other cancers. Although most breast cancer survivors dont get cancer again, they are at higher risk for getting some types of cancer, including:
- A second breast cancer
- Salivary gland cancer
- Melanoma of the skin
- Acute myeloid leukemia
The most common second cancer in breast cancer survivors is another breast cancer. The new cancer can occur in the opposite breast, or in the same breast for women who were treated with breast-conserving surgery .
Statistics At A Glance: The Burden Of Cancer In The United States
Statistics at a Glance: The Burden of Cancer Worldwide
- Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2018, there were 18.1 million new cases and 9.5 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.
- Generally, cancer rates are highest in countries whose populations have the highest life expectancy, education level, and standard of living. But for some cancer types, such as cervical cancer, the reverse is true, and the incidence rate is highest in countries in which the population ranks low on these measures.
Source: International Agency for Research on Cancer
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Examples Of Rates Versus Numbers
Say, town A has a population of 100,000 and town B has a population of 1,000. Over a year, say there are 100 breast cancer deaths in town A and 100 breast cancer deaths in town B.
The number of breast cancer deaths in each town is the same. However, many more people live in town A than live in town B. So, the mortality rates are quite different.
In town A, there were 10 breast cancer deaths among 100,000 people. This means the mortality rate was less than 1 percent .
In town B, the mortality rate was 10 percent .
Although the number of deaths was the same in town A and town B, the mortality rate was much higher in town B than in town A .
Lets look at another example. In 2021, its estimated among women there will be :
- 100 breast cancer deaths in Washington, D.C.
- 720 breast cancer deaths in Alabama
- 4,730 breast cancer deaths in California
Of the 3, California has the highest number of breast cancers. However, that doesnt mean it has the highest breast cancer rate. These numbers dont take into account the number of women who live in each state. Fewer women live in Alabama and Washington, D.C. than live in California.
Other factors may vary by state as well, such as the age and race/ethnicity of women. So, to compare breast cancer mortality , we need to look at mortality rates.
In 2021, the estimated mortality rates are :
- 26 per 100,000 women in Washington, D.C.
- 22 per 100,000 women in Alabama 22
- 19 per 100,000 women in California 20