Breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide.
Latest breast cancer data
Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the most common cancer overall. There were more than 2.26 million new cases of breast cancer in women in 2020. The 10 countries with the highest rates of breast cancer in women and the highest number of deaths from breast cancer in women in 2020 are shown in the tables below.
ASR = age-standardised rates. These are a summary measure of the rate of disease that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardisation is necessary when comparing populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of dying from cancer.
Breast cancer rates
This table shows global breast cancer incidence in women in 2020. Belgium had the highest rate of breast cancer in women in 2020, followed by the Netherlands.
|5||France, New Caledonia||185||99.0|
Breast cancer deaths
This table shows global breast cancer mortality in women in 2020. Barbados had the highest rate of breast cancer mortality in women in 2020, followed by Fiji.
|5||Papua New Guinea||847||27.7|
What causes breast cancer?
There is evidence that the following are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women: early menarche (before the age of 12), late natural menopause (after the age of 55), not bearing children, first pregnancy over the age of 30, ionising radiation exposure from medical treatment such as X-rays – particularly during puberty, and hormone therapy.
There is also strong evidence that the following INCREASE the risk of premenopausal breast cancer:
- greater birthweight
- adult attained height
There is strong evidence that the following DECREASE the risk of premenopausal breast cancer:
- vigorous physical activity
- greater body fatness (read more about this intriguing finding)
There is strong evidence that the following INCREASE the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer:
- greater body fatness throughout adulthood
- adult weight gain
- adult attained height
There is strong evidence that the following DECREASE the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer:
- physical activity (including vigorous physical activity)
- greater body fatness in young adulthood (read more about this intriguing finding)
There is strong evidence that lactation (breastfeeding) DECREASES the risk of breast cancer (unspecified menopausal status).