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Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with slightly more cases estimated in 2012 in less-developed (883,000 cases) than in more-developed (794,000) regions. Of the 184 countries included in the GLOBOCAN database, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in women in 140 countries (76%) and the most frequent cause of cancer mortality in 101 countries (55%).

Although the estimated number of breast cancer deaths is less than a third of estimated new cases, breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in women in less-developed countries, and the second among women in developed countries.

Estimated new breast cancer cases and deaths by region, 2012

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Of the 184 major countries in the world, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in women in 140 countries (76%) and the most frequent cause of cancer mortality in 101 countries (55%).

Incidence rates vary nearly fourfold across the world regions, ranging from 27 per 100,000 in Middle Africa and Eastern Asia to 96 per 100,000 in Western Europe, and tend to be elevated in countries with highest development. Breast cancer is the most frequent cause of cancer death in women in less-developed regions (324,000 deaths, 14.3% of total) and the second cause of cancer death in more-developed regions (198,000 deaths, 15.4%), after lung cancer.

Incidence rates continue to increase in all countries except in a few high-income countries. In contrast, mortality rates are decreasing in many high-income countries but increasing in low- and middle-income countries. The variation in mortality rates between world regions (ranging from 6 per 100,000 in Eastern Asia to 20 per 100,000 in Western Africa) is less than that for incidence rates because of the considerably better survival from breast cancer in developed regions, resulting from increased access to early detection (mammography) and treatment. Differences in incidence between countries with and without mammography screening programs are also influenced by earlier diagnosis and the overdiagnosis associated with detecting breast cancers in asymptomatic women. Overall, a substantially greater proportion of women with breast cancer will die from their disease in less-developed regions.

 

Breast cancer incidence rates continue to increase in all countries except a few high-income countries, while mortality rates are decreasing in many high-income countries and increasing in low- and middle-income countries.

Age-standardized incidence and mortality rates (world) per 100,000 for select countries, 1975-2011

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Text alternative: Trends in breast cancer incidence and mortality rates for select countries, 1975-2011 Two graphs showing age-standardized breast cancer incidence and mortality rates (world) per 100,000 for select countries, 1975-2011 Download High Res

People used to say everyone knows someone who’s had breast cancer. In the past few weeks, I’ve learned something else: Everyone has someone close to them who has had breast cancer.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, US House of Representatives, breast cancer survivor