A new study from the American Cancer Society reports that the number of women who died from breast cancer dropped about 40% in the past 25 years, which translates into more than 322,000 lives saved during that time period.
The study also estimated that about 252,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2017. It’s also estimated that there will be 63,410 cases of DCIS diagnosed this year.
It’s important to know that these statistics are only for initial diagnoses of breast cancer and do not include metastatic recurrences -- when the breast cancer returns in a part of the body away from the breast. It’s estimated that about 6% to 10% of new breast cancer cases are stage IV, or metastatic at diagnosis. The number of metastatic recurrences are unknown but are estimated to range from about 20% to 30% of all existing breast cancer cases, according to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network.
The study was published online on Oct. 3, 2017 by CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Read “Breast cancer statistics, 2017, racial disparity in mortality by state.”
It’s also important to know that while the statistics show that rates of breast cancer mortality among Black and white women are basically even in several states, overall, Black women are still 42% more likely to die from the disease than white women.
"A large body of research suggests that the Black-white breast cancer disparity results from a complex interaction of biologic and nonbiologic factors, including differences in stage at diagnosis, tumor characteristics, obesity, other health issues, as well as tumor characteristics, particularly a higher rate of triple-negative cancer," said Carol DeSantis, director of Breast and Gynecological Cancer Surveillance for the American Cancer Society and lead author of the report. "But the substantial geographic variation in breast cancer death rates confirms the role of social and structural factors, and the closing disparity in several states indicates that increasing access to health care to low-income populations can further progress the elimination of breast cancer disparities.
"This means that there is a light at the end of the tunnel," DeSantis continued. "Some states are showing they can close the gap."
The report outlines the differences in breast cancer diagnosis and mortality rates by race/ethnicity in the United States. White women and Black women have higher breast cancer diagnosis and death rates than women of other race/ethnicities; Asian/Pacific Islander women have the lowest diagnosis and death rates. Although the overall breast cancer diagnosis rate from 2010 to 2014 was 2% lower in Black women than in white women, breast cancer mortality rates from 2011 to 2015 were 42% higher in Black women than in white women.
The declines in breast cancer mortality rates since 1989 have been attributed to both improvements in treatment and early detection by mammography. At the same time, not all women have benefited equally from these improvements, as the mortality rates show.
Slightly more than 80% of breast cancers are diagnosed in women age 50 and older and 89% of deaths from breast cancer happen in that age group. The average age at diagnosis for all women is 62; for Black women the average age at diagnosis is 59. The average age when a white woman dies from breast cancer is 70, and the average age a Black woman dies from breast cancer is 62.
Through January 2016, more than 3.5 million women were living with breast cancer in the United States.
For more information, visit the Breast Cancer Fact Sheet in the Breastcancer.org media kit.