Breast Cancer Statistics Worldwide

In 2010, nearly 1.5 million people were told "you have breast cancer"

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It is also the principle cause of death from cancer among women globally. Despite the high incidence rates, in Western countries, 89% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive 5 years after their diagnosis, which is due to detection and treatment (Parkin, 2008).

The UK and USA have one of the highest incidence rates worldwide (together with the rest of North America and Australia/New Zealand), making these countries a priority for breast cancer awareness. View the map below to see how your country is impacted by breast cancer (pink being the highest per capita):

Dramatically, one-third of these cancer deaths could be decreased if detected and treated early. In a worldwide context, this means nearly 400,000 lives could be saved every year.*

(see infographic) The World Health Organisation [WHO] has suggested that two components of early detection have been shown to improve cancer mortality:


  • Education—to help people recognize early signs of cancer and seek prompt medical attention for symptoms.
  • Screening programs—to identify early cancer or pre-cancer before signs are recognizable, including mammography for breast cancer.

[/arrowlist] In the UK and US, effective education and screening could save between 12 to 37 lives per day, respectively:


New Cases of Breast Cancer (per day)

Breast Cancer Deaths (per day)

Lives that could have been saved through early detection (per day)









Your Lifetime Risk, is it really 1 in 8?

The most common breast cancer statistic you have probably heard is that “1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.” What it should really read is “If everyone lived beyond the age of 70, 1 in 8 of those women would get or have had breast cancer.” This statistic is based on everyone in the population living beyond the age of 70. Since your breast cancer risk increases as you age, your lifetime risk changes depending on your age:

Age 20-29: 1 in 2,000 Age 30-39: 1 in 229 Age 40-49: 1 in 68 Age 50-59: 1 in 37 Age 60-69: 1 in 26 Ever: 1 in 8 Source: American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Facts & Figures, 2005-2006.

This means that this poster, should really look like this:

According to estimates of lifetime risk by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, about 13.2% of women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer…which is the same as saying 1 in 7.57 people. And since there is no such thing as .57 of a person, the common phrase is “1 in 8.”

However, after all of this, the chance that breast cancer will be responsible for your death in the U.S. is about 3%. Part of this is by being educated about breast cancer symptoms, knowing your risk and getting screened regularly.

*Danaei, 2005 and WHO, 2009