Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality rates Worldwide: Canada, U.K., U.S.A.
This post will look at the statistics of incidence and mortality rates of breast cancer in Countries Worldwide.
Incidence Rates of Breast Cancer by Country
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer of women worldwide with 1.67 million new cases diagnosed in 2012. Indeed, Globocan estimated that around 522,000 women worldwide died of breast cancer in 2012 alone.
In 2012 there were slightly more cases (833,000) of breast cancer diagnosed in less developed areas of the world than for developed regions (794,000).
Interestingly however, breast cancer incidence rates vary dramatically by world region. For example, Middle Africa and Eastern Asia had a rate of 27 cases per 100,000 compared to 92 cases per 100,000 in North America.
Mortality Rates of Breast Cancer by Country
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in under developed regions representing 14.3% of all cancer deaths. In more developed regions breast cancer deaths represent 15.4% of all cancer deaths (even though the incidence rate is higher) and is the second cause of female cancer death after lung cancer.
Breast cancer mortality rates also vary amongst world regions. In more developed areas of the world, despite high-incidence rates, survival remains better than in less developed areas with lower incidence rates. For example, 6 per 100,000 breast cancer patients died in Eastern Asia compared to 20 per 100,000 in Western Africa.
Statistics and Graph: Breast Cancer Incidence
and Mortality Rate Worldwide (per 100,000).
(WHO/IARC Statistics 2012)
As we can see from the 2012 bar chart above breast cancer incidence rates (shown in blue) vary widely according to geographical location. However, the mortality rates (shown in red) remain fairly consistent.
Obviously, one would expect that the mortality rates would be higher in countries that have have a higher incidence rate, but this is not the case.
The reason for this is thought to be due to extensive screening programs, earlier detection and more sophisticated treatment options in more developed regions.
The very Latest Trends in Breast Cancer by Country Mortality Rates
This large research study found that the mortality rate from breast cancer have decreased in 39 out of 47 countries. The US and most European countries saw a marked decrease in breast cancer mortality over the last 25 years.
However worldwide there were a few disparities. South Korea and some Latin American nations saw an increase in breast cancer deaths. South Korea had an 83% overall increase in mortality rates across all age groups.
For the Latin American countries, Brazil and Colombia also saw an increase in mortality rates whilst Argentina and Chile saw a decline in breast cancer mortality rates.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Incidence rates in Canada: 2016 Statistics.
As in many other developed countries, breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer amongst Canadian women.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society statistics, around 25,700 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. This figure relates to 130.1 cases per 100,000 women in the same year.
The actual number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada has increased steadily over the years, due to a growing population. However, incidence rates have remained relatively stable since the 1980’s.
New Breast Cancers for 2015 and Estimated Cases
for 2016 in Canada by age groups
A Note on Breast Cancer Incidence by Age Group
The risk of a breast cancer diagnosis increases with age. In Canada it is estimated by the Canadian Cancer Society that 83% of new breast cancer cases will occur in women over the age of 50 years old in 2016.
As we can see from the two above graphs, new breast cancer cases are highest between the ages of 60 and 69 years old. Indeed, 27% of all new breast cancer cases were in women between 60 and 69 years old.
However, the rates in general are highest between the ages of 50 and 69 years and this age group represents 51% of all new cases.
In younger women, only 17% of new breast cancer cases will be diagnosed in women under the age of 50 years. Furthermore, 13% of these new cases occur between the ages of 40 and 49 years.
Breast Cancer 5-Year Survival Rate and Mortality Rates in Canada
Although the general 5 year survival rate for breast cancer in Canada is an impressive 87% this varies slightly by age too. For Canadian women diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages of 40 and 69 years, the 5 year survival rate is higher at 89% – 90%.
For those over 80 years the 5-year survival rate is the lowest at 78%. Indeed, 52% of breast cancer deaths occur in women that are older than 70 years.
The good news is that the mortality rate of breast cancer in Canada is the lowest it has been seen 1950. Indeed, since the peak in 1986, breast cancer mortality rates have dropped overall by 44%.
Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality in the US
The American Cancer Society estimate that there will be 252,710 new cases of breast cancer and 40,610 female deaths in 2017.
Similar to Canada, in the US, although there has been an increase in incidence of new breast cancer cases due to population rise, the mortality rate has steadily declined.
Indeed, according to the 2016 study by Pizot, the mortality rate from breast cancer decreased by 42% since 1987.
Thus, between the years of 1987 and 1989 the mortality rate was 22 deaths per 100,000 women in the US. However, between the years of 2011 and 2013 this figure had dropped to 14 deaths per 100,000 women.
Again, like Canada, the mortality rate reduced in general over all age groups but there were differences. The biggest decline in breast cancer mortality rates was seen in women under 50 years old (50% decrease). For women between 50 and 69 years old the mortality rate had dropped by 44% and for those over 70 years the decrease in deaths was 31%.
Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality in the UK
According to the Cancer Research Group (UK) in 2014 breast cancer remains the most common female cancer. Indeed, breast cancer accounts for 31% of all cancer cases in women in the UK.
Furthermore, in 2014 there were 54,833 new case of breast cancer in the UK, that is 167 per 100,000. The breast cancer incidence rates do vary across the UK with significantly lower rates in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The breast cancer survival rate in the UK has been significantly lower than the US and Canada over the years. However, the UK statistics are based on a 10 year survival rate rather than 5 years.
The most recent figure, for the 10-year survival rate for female breast cancer, between 2010 and 2011 is 78%.
The Good News for the UK
Breast Cancer Incidence Rates in the Asia-Pacific Region
As in many other countries worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in Asia and accounts for around 18% of all cancer cases in 2012.
Traditionally some countries in the Asia-Pacific region have had the lowest incidence rates of female breast cancer.
However, according to one 2012 research study it is predicted that breast cancer incidence rates will continue to rise in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific.
Incidence rates in 2012 remain higher in New Zealand and Australia but rapid rises have also been seen across other Asian countries.
Breast Cancer Mortality Rates in the Asia-Pacific Region
Large increases in breast cancer mortality rates have also occurred across Asian-Pacific countries, especially Malaysia and Thailand.
However, breast cancer mortality rates have stabilised in Hong Kong and Singapore and decreased in Australia and New Zealand.
It must be understood that both incidence and mortality rates vary dramatically across the Asian-Pacific countries. For example, incidence rates range from 80.5 in Israel to 4.6 in Bhutan. Likewise mortality rates also vary from 1.8 in Bhutan to 25.2 in Pakistan.
Another interesting factor when breast cancer in Asia is compared to Western countries is the age at diagnosis. Within many Asian countries the average age of diagnosis is much younger. In many Asian countries the peak at diagnosis is between the ages of 45 and 50 years in contrast to 55 to 65 in Western countries.
Breast cancer diagnosis and mortality rates in Canada (2005) per 100000 people
|Age groups for women||New Cases||Deaths|
Statistics for breast cancer incidence and mortality rates for ten year intervals in Canada, do not differ significantly from breast cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States.
Canada ranks about 12th out or 16 countries of similar development. On average, the overall mortality rate due to breast cancer in Canada is about 169 per 100000 population.
Estimated incidence of breast cancer by 10 year age group for women in Canada (2005)
As the above bar chart shows, the incidence of breast cancer for women aged 20-29 is very very low. There is a small increase in breast cancer incidence for women in their 30’s, then a significant increase for women in their 40’s.
For women aged 50-59, there is a large increase in breast cancer incidence. Indeed, the incidence rate almost doubles for women in their 40’s. Then the breast cancer incidence rate more or less levels off for women in their 60’s to eighties, but remains rather high.
Number of deaths due to breast cancer per 100000 women in Canada: Statistics from 2010
|Age groups for women||Deaths|
|70 and over||2850|
Canadian Breast Cancer mortality rates appear to be declining
According to statistics from 2005, the mortality rate for women in the 50 to 59 age group in Canada is approximately 1 in 6.
For the 60 to 69 age group bracket it appears to be approximately 1 in 5. For women aged 40 to 49, the mortality rate due to breast cancer is approximately 1 in 7.
However, there are encouraging trends from the most recent Canadian breast cancer statistics 2010. The mortality rates for women in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, have all experienced a small but significant decline.
In fact, long term statistics from both the U.S. and Canada show a steady and continuing decline in breast cancer mortality rates from the mid 1980’s until 2006. This trend certainly appears to be ongoing.
The decline in mortality rates could be due to any number of factors, but many experts, depending on the model of breast cancer risk involved, estimate that improvements in adjuvant breast cancer therapy can reduce breast cancer mortality from 35% up to 72%.
Breast Cancer Mortality rates: Canada and the U.S. over time
U.S. Breast Cancer incidence rates are significantly lower in some US states than other
In the United States, the breast cancer incidence rate is lowest in:-
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
The above US states had around 100 to 116 cases per 100,000 women.
The highest breast cancer incidence rates in the United States are in the states of:-
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- District of Columbia
It is not immediately clear which factors account for the significant differences in breast cancer rates from state to state. It has been suggested that women from lower income communities are less likely to participate in breast cancer screening programs.
As a result, the breast cancer incidence rate may initially appear to be lower in some regions and these statistics may be misleading. The mortality rate also is likely be higher as breast cancers will tend to be diagnosed at a later stage.
Breast cancer mortality rates appear to be significantly lower in some Asian countries
Curiously, the lowest breast cancer mortality rates are often found in Asia. The lowest mortality rates for breast cancer are found in China and Japan, with rates of approximately 6% to 7%.
By contrast, the mortality rate due to breast cancer tends to average around 20% to 25% in the developed nations of Europe and North America. What could account for such a discrepancy?
The peak incidence rate for breast cancer is earlier in life in many Asian countries
The most striking difference between Asian and Western countries in terms of breast cancer diagnosis and mortality is the peak age of incidence.
In Asian countries, the peak incidence age is between 45 and 50, whilst in developed Western nations the peak incidence tends to be between 55 and 60 years of age.
In addition, statistics are showing that the incidence of breast cancer is rising in Asian countries, with an associated increase in breast cancer mortality. By contrast, in the West the incidence rate does appear to be increasing, but the breast cancer mortality rate is definitely decreasing.
Statistics also suggest that Asian women tend to have much fewer cases of post-menopausal estrogen receptor positive breast cancers when compared to women living in Western countries.
However, differences in tumor ER status are not significant enough to account for such a large disparity. It may be that Asian countries contain different risk factors, such as environmental exposure and diet.
However, it is more likely that the differences in breast cancer incidence and mortality rates are due to access to breast cancer screening, and differences in reporting methods.
As Asian countries become more modernized and westernized, it is likely that the breast cancer data will begin to more closely conform to Western trends.
Breast Cancer Statistics in the UK: mortality rates decreasing
In the UK, it is estimated that 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, and this figure is about the same for Canada.
About 80% of breast cancer cases in England occur in women age 50 and over, with the peak incidence age between 60 and 64 years.
Compared to other types of cancer, breast cancer is thought to account for just over 30% of all cancers in women in the UK.
UK five year breast cancer survival rate is well over 80%
The five year survival rate for women with breast cancer in the UK has been estimated at about 83%, and increasing.
The ten year breast cancer survival rate for women in the UK is about 72%, while about 65% will survive for at least 20 more years.
Canadian breast cancer incidence rates: 11% lifetime risk
In Canada, about 11% of women will develop breast cancer by the time they reach 90 years of age. Just about 20% of breast cancers in Canada are diagnosed in women under 50, while almost 30% are diagnosed in women over 70 years of age.
Canadian breast cancer statistics show an overall 87% survival rate
As a raw number, it is now estimated that about 5300 women will die of breast cancer in Canada each year.
That translates to about 100 women every week. About 36% of all breast cancer mortalities in Canada occur in women between the ages of 50 and 69.
However, it should be remembered that the overall breast cancer mortality rate in Canada has recently decreased to 21.4%, down from 21.8%. The five year survival rate for Canadian women with breast cancer is now over 87%.
For further reading, I suggest you visit this page with information on Breast Cancer Screening Results from Canada, UK and the U.S.
- Benson JR, Jatoi I (2012) The global breast cancer burden. Future Oncol. 2012 Jun;8(6):697-702. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22764767
- Pizot C, Boniol M, Boyle P and Autier P. University of Strathclyde Institute of Global Public Health, Lyon, France and International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, France.
(2016) Overview of breast cancer mortality trends in the world. 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (1158/1554) https://www.sabcs.org/Portals/SABCS2016/Documents/SABCS-2016-Abstracts.pdf?v=1
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