Breast cancer

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Breast cancer statistics

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women. Breast cancer can also occur in men, but it is not common.

Incidence and mortality

Incidence is the number of new cases of cancer. Mortality is the number of deaths due to cancer. The following incidence and mortality statistics are estimated using the most up-to-date data available at the time of the analyses.

It is estimated that in 2019:

  • 26,900 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. This represents 25% of all new cancer cases in women in 2019.
  • 5,000 women will die from breast cancer. This represents 13% of all cancer deaths in women in 2019.
  • On average, 74 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day.
  • On average, 14 Canadian women will die from breast cancer every day.
  • 230 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 55 will die from breast cancer.

Estimated Canadian breast cancer statistics (2019)
CategoryMalesFemales

New cases

230

26,900

Deaths

55

5,000

5-year net survival (estimates for 2012 to 2014)

80%

88%

Trends in breast cancer

The breast cancer incidence rate in women in Canada rose between 1984 and 1991. The rate has fluctuated since then, with an overall small decrease.

The increase until the early 1990s occurred partly because mammography was used more often, which meant that more cases of breast cancer were found. The reasons for the later fluctuation are not clear but may include long-term changes in hormonal factors, like if a woman started having her menstrual periods when she was young, breastfeeding and oral contraceptive use.

The slight decrease in rate in 2002 coincided with a large drop in the use of HRT among postmenopausal women when its role in breast cancer was publicized.

The breast cancer death rate peaked in 1986 and has been declining since. This reduction in death rates likely reflects the impact of screening and improvements in treatment for breast cancer.

Chances (probability) of developing or dying from breast cancer

It is estimated that about 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 33 will die from it.

For more information, go to Canadian Cancer Statistics publication.

mammography

A procedure used to x-ray the breast.

Doctors use mammography to look for tumours or cysts (sacs that are usually filled with fluid or semi-solid material) in the breasts.

Different types of mammography include screening mammography and diagnostic mammography.

The x-ray image produced is called a mammogram.

Stories

Dr Shawn Li I’m extremely grateful to the Canadian Cancer Society for funding my research with an Innovation Grant.

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