Breast Cancer Facts

  • Every woman is at risk of developing breast cancer. About one in every eight American women will develop the disease sometime during her lifetime. Although rare, men can also develop breast cancer.
  • Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer.
  • More than 210,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the United States. More than 1,500 cases are detected in men.
  • Mortality rates from breast cancer began to decline significantly during the decade of the 1990s, with the largest decreases seen in younger women, both white and black. Most likely, these results are a combination of earlier detection and improved treatment.
  • The most common form of non-invasive breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is an early form of cancer confined to the milk ducts in the breast. The most common form of invasive breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which accounts for 80 percent of all breast cancers.
  • A woman's chance of developing breast cancer increases as she grows older; more than 75 percent of all cancers are found in women over the age of 50. The average age at diagnosis is 62.
  • In addition to age and gender, certain risk factors can increase a woman's chances of developing cancer (see Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Preventing Breast Cancer). However, the majority of women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors.
  • Breast cancer is a treatable disease and early detection is key (see Screening for Breast Cancer). If a cancer is found early, it is more than 90 percent likely to be completely curable.
  • A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that can detect 85-90 percent of all cancers (65-75 percent in dense breasts). It should be part of a woman's breast health program along with breast self-exam and a clinical exam by a health care provider.

National Cancer Institute
American Cancer Society