Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in England. In 2010, 41,259 new cases were diagnosed, an increase of 1.8 per cent (731 cases) compared to 2009. There were 126 new cases per 100,000 women in 2010, compared with 125 new cases per 100,000 women in 2009. These incidence rates have increased by 90 per cent between 1971 and 2010.
Just over 9,700 women died from breast cancer in England in 2011, a rate of 24 deaths per 100,000 women. These mortality rates fell by 37 per cent between 1971 and 2011. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
Earlier detection and improved treatment for breast cancer mean that survival estimates have risen steadily. Survival from breast cancer is higher than that for the other major cancers in women - cervical, colorectal, ovarian, and lung (Office for National Statistics, 2011).
For women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005-09 (and followed up to the end of 2010), the five-year survival estimate was 85 per cent, compared with 81 per cent for women diagnosed in 2000-04 (and followed up to the end of 2005), and 76 per cent for women diagnosed in 1993-95 (and followed up to the end of 2000).
Breast cancer accounted for 31 per cent of all cancers in women in 2010. One in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, with age being the strongest risk factor, after gender (Cancer Research UK, 2012). Almost four out of every five new cases were diagnosed in women aged 50 and over, with cases peaking in the 60 to 64 age group (14 per cent of all new cases).
A large proportion of breast cancer cases in developed countries are related to reproductive and hormonal factors, obesity, alcohol and physical activity (Cancer Research UK, 2012). It is estimated that about 27 per cent of cases of female breast cancer in the UK are linked to largely modifiable lifestyle and environmental factors (Parkin, Boyd and Walker, 2011).
In 2010, 353 new cases of male breast cancer were diagnosed, a rate of one new case per 100,000 men. Sixty-four males died from the disease in 2011, a rate of 0.2 deaths per 100,000 men. As with female breast cancer, the incidence rates for male breast cancer have increased since 1971 (an increase of 60 per cent between 1971 and 2010), and mortality rates have fallen (a decrease of 44% between 1971 and 2011). Male breast cancer cases make up a very small proportion of the overall number of cases of cancer in men (0.26 percent in 2010).
Cancer Research UK (2012). ‘Breast cancer – risk factors’
Office for National Statistics (2011). ‘Cancer survival in England, patients diagnosed 2005-2009 and followed up to 2010’,
Parkin D M, Boyd L, and Walker LC (2011) ‘The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010. Summary and conclusions’, British Journal of Cancer 105 (S2), S77-S81.
Source: Office for National Statistics
Female breast cancer is coded as 174 in the International Classification of Diseases Eighth and Ninth Revisions (ICD-8 & 9) and C50 in the Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Male breast cancer is coded to 175 in the Eighth Revision (ICD-8) and is coded as per female breast cancer in the Ninth and Tenth Revisions (ICD-9 & 10).
Age standardised rates are expressed per 100,000 population and are standardised to the European Standard Population. They are standardised to allow for more robust comparisons between males and females, years, and geographical areas.
The five-year relative survival estimates are for adults aged 15-99 and have been age standardised to control for changes in the age profile of cancer patients over time. This enables figures for different time periods to be compared.
Incidence figures presented are based on rates reported in the most recent Annual Reference Volume (Cancer Statistics - Registrations, England 2010, Series MB1 no 41) and represent registrations received at ONS by the end of December 2011.
Mortality rates for 2011 are based on population projections and are provisional. Revised mortality rates, calculated using 2011 census-based mid-year population estimates, will be published in next year’s bulletin.
Cancer registration figures for 1971 to 1989 have been refreshed to make them comparable with figures from 1990 onwards. This means that incidence rates for these years will vary slightly to those contained in the historical dataset.
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