It seems everyone knows a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. And no wonder. Among women in the United States, breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis (after skin cancer) and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths (after lung cancer).
In 2019, about 268,600 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. About 63,000 more will be diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer (cells that are abnormal but have not invaded nearby tissues, also known as ductal carcinoma in situ). About 41,760 women will die of breast cancer this year.
There’s been some good news in recent years. Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. The American Cancer Society found that from 2002 to 2003, there was a near seven percent drop in new cases of breast cancer, most likely due to fewer women using hormones to address symptoms of menopause. And death rates from breast cancer dropped 40 percent from 1989 to 2016, likely due to early detection through screening and better, targeted treatments and therapies.
One more bit of good news: When breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage and small size (before it has spread to lymph nodes, nearby structures or other places outside the breast), the five-year survival rate is 99 percent.*
* Source: American Cancer Society