Recent Trends in Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality

Recent Trends in Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality

The American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute, and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries provide yearly updates on cancer incidence and mortality. Islami et al. recently reported the most updated data in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Considering all cancer types, the incidence rates (per 100,000 population), 2013-2017, were 487.4 for males and 422.4 for females. Cancer death rates were 185.5 for males and 133.5 for females. During this period, death rates declined for both males and females. Incidence rates, however, though remaining stable among males, slightly increased in females (see graph above).

For breast cancer, death rates remained stable compared to prior periods, in which death rates had been falling. For instance, breast cancer death rates fell 2.3% per year from 2003-2007, 1.6% during 2007-2014, and only 1.0% during the most recent evaluation (2014-2018). This data suggests that breast cancer survival improvement achieved through early detection and improved treatments has been curtailed. “Moreover, substantial racial disparities persist, with death rates 40% higher in Black women than White women despite their similar incidence.” Interestingly, this was very similar to prostate cancer death rates which fell 3.5% per year on average during 2001-2013 but stabilized during the most recent evaluation, 2014-2018.

These recent changes in death rates for female breast cancer are consistent with changes in incidence rates. For example, the authors have noted a steady yet slight increase in incidence during 2004-2017, preceded by a declining trend during 2001-2004.

Summary: Death rates declined during the most recent study period for all cancer types, while incidence rates remained stable. For breast cancer, incidence rates have stopped their steady decline with a slight increase in incidence during 2004-2017. Death rates have similarly stabilized following two decades of significant improvement.