How Common Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. The average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease.
Current year estimates for breast cancer
The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2021 are:
- About 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 49,290 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) will be diagnosed.
- About 43,600 women will die from breast cancer.
Trends in breast cancer incidence
In recent years, incidence rates have increased by 0.5% per year.
Trends in breast cancer deaths
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. (Only lung cancer kills more women each year.) The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 39 (about 2.6%).
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.
Breast cancer survivors
At this time there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.
Survival rates are discussed in Survival Rates for Breast Cancer.
Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2021. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2021.
American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2019-2020. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2020.
Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Brest A, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/, based on November 2018 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2019.
Lifetime Risk (Percent) of Dying from Cancer by Site and Race/Ethnicity: Females, Total US, 2014-2016 (Table 1.19). https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/results_merged/topic_lifetime_risk.pdf. 2019. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Last Revised: May 7, 2021