About breast cancer

Facts and figures

Global Breast Cancer statistics

  • In 2020, 11.7% of all cancers diagnosed were female breast cancer, making it the most common cancer worldwide
  • In 2020, there were 2.26 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685,000 deaths globally
  • As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer over the past 5 years
  • In 2019, there were 25,100 men diagnosed with breast cancer and 12,100 deaths globally

UK & England Breast Cancer statistics

Incidence of breast cancer in the UK [average per annum, based on 2016-2018 data]

  • There are around 56,000 new cases of breast cancer every year: that’s over 150 cases every day
  • In women, on average there were 55,545 new cases each year
  • 18% of breast cancers were in women under 50 and 82% in those 50 or older
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, representing 15% of all new cancer cases
  • 24% of breast cancers occurred in women over 75
  • In men, there were 375 new breast cancer cases
  • Each year, there are around 8300 in situ breast carcinoma cases, a non-invasive form of breast cancer which if untreated may lead to breast cancer

Breast cancer in the UK and England over time

*Breast cancer in UK women has:

  • increased by 24% over 23 years
  • increased by 5% over 10 years
  • dropped by 2% over 3 years

* most up to date figures are from 2018

In England in 2019:

  • Breast cancer became the most common cancer and accounts for 30% of all cancers
  • The rate of breast cancer in women has doubled over the past 50 years
  • The rate of breast cancer in men has remained stable over the past two decades
  • 86% of breast cancers in women are diagnosed at stage 1 or stage 2 (early stage breast cancer which hasn’t spread beyond nearby lymph nodes)

Estimated overall risk of getting breast cancer

  • A woman born after 1960 and living in the UK has an estimated 1 in 7 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer
  • A UK man’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is around 1 in 870

Breast cancer mortality

In the UK [average per annum, based on 2017-2019 data]

  • Breast cancer is the 4th most common cause of cancer death and the 2nd most common cause of any death in women
  • Around 11,400 women and 85 men die from breast cancer every year. This is equivalent to 32 deaths every day
  • 48% of deaths from breast cancer are in those aged 75 and over
  • Since the mid-1980s, breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 45%
  • Breast cancer is the most common cause of death for women between 35-49 years of age
  • Breast cancer mortality rates have been declining and are projected to fall by 26% between 2014 and 2035
  • The UK has had a consistently higher breast cancer mortality rate compared to most other OECD countries

Breast cancer survival

In *England (based on women diagnosed between 2002-2017 and followed up 2018):

  • 97.3% of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive at least 1 year; this figure has increased by 3% since 2002.
  • 88.3% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are predicted to survive for 5 or more years
  • 80.4% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are predicted to survive for 10 or more years

*Please note: survival rates don’t vary significantly between the different UK nations; England stats are quoted here as 2018 UK stats were unavailable at the time of writing.

Impact of Covid-19 on those affected by breast cancer in the UK

  • There was a 44% decrease in the number of women (45 and over) who were screened for breast cancer in 2020-21 (1.19 million), compared to 2019-20 (2.12 million)
  • The number of women (45 and over) with breast cancers detected from mammography screening decreased from 17,771 in 2019-20 to 10,813 in 2020-21, a decrease of 6957 cases (39.2%)

Genetics and family history

  • Around 15-20% of men and women with breast cancer will have a family history of the disease
  • Inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for about 4-6% of all breast cancer cases in women and around 11-12% of cases in men
  • In the general population, around 1 in 300-400 people carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a 1 in 40 chance of carrying a BRCA mutation.

Breast Cancer prevention

  • Breast Cancer UK estimates that around 30% of breast cancer cases in the UK can be prevented by making lifestyle changes
  • This is equivalent to around 17,000 breast cancer cases each year
  • For more information about breast cancer prevention see our Prevention Hub.

Last Review: July 2022

Next Review: July 2023

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