Breast Cancer Facts

What is the incidence of breast cancer?

It is important to note that incident rates for breast cancer are projected to rise by 2% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 210 cases per 100,000 females by 2035.

1 in 8 women and 1 in 870 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.


How does age affect incidence rates of breast cancer?

The incidence of breast cancer increases with age. Eighty per cent of cases occur in post-menopausal women. After the age 35, the risk begins to increase, rising sharply after the menopause.

How many people die from breast cancer in the UK?

  • There were around 11,400 breast cancer deaths in the UK in 2014, that’s 31 deaths every day.
  • Breast cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK (2014).
  • Breast cancer accounts for 7% of all cancer deaths in the UK (2014).


What are the survival rates in England?

  • Around 95% (96%) of women diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for one year or more (2010-11).
  • Almost 9 in 10 (87%) women diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for five years or more (2010-11).
  • Almost 8 in 10 (78%) women diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more (2010-11).


The stage at which a woman has breast cancer diagnosed greatly influences her survival chances. In general, the earlier the detection, the greater the chance of survival.

What are the causes of breast cancer?

It is still unclear exactly what causes breast cancer but we know that the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Two genes that can cause breast cancer have been identified as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes have been found in approximately 85% of families with four or more cases of breast cancer diagnosed under the age of 60. However, only about five per cent of all breast cancer cases are caused by breast cancer genes.

There is a higher risk of breast cancer in the south of England and in Wales than in the north of the UK. The risk of breast cancer also appears to be higher in women from more affluent backgrounds.

What is breast screening?

Breast screening is a method of detecting breast cancer at a very early stage. Breast screening can detect small changes in breast tissue, which may indicate cancers that are too small to be felt either by the patient or by a doctor. The screening is called a mammogram, which is an x-ray of each breast, taken while carefully compressing the breast. Most women find it a bit uncomfortable but a few find it painful.

Does breast screening save lives?

Undoubtedly. Breast cancer screening can help detect cancer early. Around a third of breast cancers are diagnosed through screening. 97% of those women having a 5-year relative survival. In the UK, breast cancers are diagnosed earlier and treated more effectively than they were in the 1980s. Breast cancer mortality in middle aged women has been falling steeply, more so than in any other major European country.