Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Second most common cancer in American women, 1 in 8 may develop it in her lifetime

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Second most common cancer in American women, 1 in 8 may develop it in her lifetime
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Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among Americans: about one of every four deaths in the US is due to cancer. While progress has been made against cancer in the US, it is projected that there will still be 1,806,590 new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2020 and 606,520 Americans will die from the disease. But how common is breast cancer among Americans? It is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. “Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the US, some kinds of skin cancer are the most common,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Currently, the average risk of a woman in the US developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%, which implies that there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means that there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease. On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the US. At this time, there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the US. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment. 


Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 11% of all new cases of breast cancer in the US are found in women younger than 45 years of age. Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the US are found in a man. 

Current year estimates

Each year in the US, about 250,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,300 in men. “In 2017, the latest year for which incidence data are available, 250,520 new cases of female breast cancer were reported among women in the US. For every 100,000 women, 125 new female breast cancer cases were reported,” says the CDC.


According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2020. It also estimates that 48,530 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS), which is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer, will be diagnosed. 

Breast cancer deaths

Deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, but remain the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall. Only lung cancer kills more women each year. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 38 or about 2.6%. 

Death rates from breast cancer have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women. From 2013 to 2017, the death rate decreased by 1.3% 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,” explains the American Cancer Society.

In the US, there will be an estimated 1,806,950 new cancer cases and 606,520 cancer deaths in 2020. According to estimates, about 42,170 women will die from breast cancer this year. About 510 men in the US die each year from breast cancer.

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