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 2nd 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 actual data available.

In 2017, an estimated:

  • 26,300 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. This represents 25% of all new cancer cases in women in 2017.
  • 5,000 women died from breast cancer. This represents 13% of all cancer deaths in women in 2017.
  • On average, 72 Canadian women were diagnosed with breast cancer every day.
  • On average, 14 Canadian women died from breast cancer every day.
  • 230 men were diagnosed with breast cancer and 60 died from breast cancer.

Estimated Canadian breast cancer statistics (2017)

New cases



Incidence rate (for every 100,000 people)*






Death rate (for every 100,000 people)*



5-year net survival (estimates for 2006–2008)



*Age-standardized to the 2011 Canadian Standard Population. Age-standardization is a statistical method that removes the effect of age on the calculated rate. It allows rates to be compared over time or across provinces and territories.

Trends in breast cancer

The breast cancer incidence rate in women in Canada rose through the early 1990s but decreased in the early 2000s. This increase occurred partly because mammography was used more often, which meant that more cases of breast cancer were found. Another reason may be the increasing use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) among post-menopausal women, which has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. The decrease that occurred around 2002 coincided with a large drop in the use of HRT among postmenopausal women when its role in breast cancer was publicized. From 2004 through 2013, the breast cancer incidence rate mostly stabilized.

The breast cancer death rate has been declining since the mid-1980s. 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 her lifetime and 1 in 31 will die from it.

For more information, go to Canadian Cancer Statistics publication.


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.

hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Treatment that replaces female sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone or both) when they are no longer produced by the ovaries.

HRT may be given to women who are post-menopausal.

Also called menopausal hormone therapy.


The time after menopause.

Post-menopausal means referring to or having to do with the time after menopause.


Researcher Dr Jean Marshall Dr Jean Marshall is finding a promising new strategy to block breast cancer.

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