Breast cancer incidence (invasive) statistics

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Cases

New cases of breast cancer, 2015-2017, UK.

 

Proportion of all cases

Percentage breast cancer is of total cancer cases, 2015-2017, UK

 

Age

Peak rate of breast cancer cases, 2015-2017, UK

Trend over time

Breast cancer incidence rates have changed differently for each sex since the early 1990s, UK

 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 15% of all new cancer cases (2017).[1-4]

In females in the UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer (30% of all new female cancer cases). In males in the UK, it is not among the 20 most common cancers (less than 1% of all new male cancer cases).

99% of breast cancer cases in the UK are in females, and 1% are in males.

Breast cancer incidence rates (European age-standardised (AS) rates Open a glossary item) for persons are similar to the UK average in all the UK constituent countries.

Breast Cancer (C50), Number of New Cases, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2017

  England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK
Female Cases 45,790 4,704 2,750 1,478 54,722
Crude Rate 162.7 168.9 173.5 155.5 163.6
AS Rate 166.7 164.5 165.7 166.8 166.5
AS Rate - 95% LCL 165.1 159.8 159.5 158.3 165.1
AS Rate - 95% UCL 168.2 169.2 171.9 175.3 167.9
Male Cases 319 31 18 19 387
Crude Rate 1.2 1.2 1.2 2.1 1.2
AS Rate 1.3 1.3 1.2 2.5 1.4
AS Rate - 95% LCL 1.2 0.8 0.7 1.4 1.2
AS Rate - 95% UCL 1.5 1.7 1.8 3.6 1.5
Persons Cases 46,109 4,735 2,768 1,497 55,109
Crude Rate 82.9 87.3 88.6 80.0 83.4
AS Rate 88.1 88.4 87.7 89.5 88.1
AS Rate - 95% LCL 87.3 85.8 84.4 85.0 87.4
AS Rate - 95% UCL 88.9 90.9 91.0 94.1 88.9

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits Open a glossary item  around the AS Rate Open a glossary item 

References

  1. Data were provided by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (part of Public Health England), on request through the Office for Data Release, November 2019. Similar data can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, December 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2017, ICD-10 C50.

Last reviewed:

Breast cancer incidence is strongly related to age, with the highest incidence rates being in older people. In the UK in 2015-2017, on average each year around a quarter of new cases (24%) were in people aged 75 and over.[1-4]

Age-specific incidence rates rise steadily from age 25-29, more steeply from age 35-39 in females and from age 60-64 in males.The highest rates are in in the 85 to 89 age group for females and males.

Incidence rates are significantly higher in females than males in a number of (mainly older) age groups.The gap is widest at age 45 to 49, when the age-specific incidence rate is 470 times higher in females than males.

Breast cancer (C50), Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates per 100,000 Females, UK, 2015-2017

Breast cancer (C50), Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates per 100,000 Males, UK, 2015-2017

For female breast cancer, like most cancer types, incidence increases with age. There is a brief plateau shortly after age 50 when routine screening starts, reflecting the diagnosis of prevalent cases at first-time screening. The brief drop in incidence shortly after age 70 when routine screening ends may be a compensatory drop as screening has brought forward diagnoses in women in this age group; incidence subsequently returns to the rates expected.

The overall increase in incidence with age largely reflects cell DNA damage accumulating over time. Damage can result from biological processes or from exposure to risk factors. A drop or plateau in incidence in the oldest age groups often indicates reduced diagnostic activity perhaps due to general ill health.

References

  1. Data were provided by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (part of Public Health England), on request through the Office for Data Release, November 2019. Similar data can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, December 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2015-2017, C50.

Last reviewed:

Breast cancer European age-standardised (AS) Open a glossary item incidence rates for females and males combined increased by 18% in the UK between 1993-1995 and 2015-2017.[1-4] The change varied markedly between sexes.

For females, breast cancer AS incidence rates in the UK increased by 23% between 1993-1995 and 2015-2017. For males, breast cancer AS incidence rates in the UK remained stable between 1993-1995 and 2015-2017.

Over the last decade in the UK (between 2005-2007 and 2015-2017), breast cancer AS incidence rates for females and males combined increased by 3%.[1-4] In females AS incidence rates increased by 5%, and in males rates remained stable.

Breast Cancer (ICD-10 C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, UK, 1993-2017

Breast Cancer (ICD-10 C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, UK, 1993-2017

Breast cancer incidence rates have increased overall in most broad age groups in females in the UK since the early 1990s, but have remained stable in some.[1-4] Rates in 0-24s have remained stable, in 25-49s have increased by 16%, in 50-64s have increased by 13%, in 65-69s have increased by 69%, in 70-79s have increased by 29%, and in 80+s have increased by 19%.

Breast Cancer (ICD-10 C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, By Age, Females, UK, 1993-2017

Breast cancer incidence rates have remained stable overall in all broad age groups in males in the UK since the early 1990s.[1-4] Rates in 0-24s have remained stable, in 25-49s have remained stable, in 50-64s have remained stable, in 65-69s have remained stable, in 70-79s have remained stable, and in 80+s have remained stable

Breast Cancer (ICD-10 C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, By Age, Males, UK, 1993-2017

For breast cancer, like most cancer types, incidence trends largely reflect changing prevalence of risk factors and improvements in diagnosis and data recording. Recent incidence trends are influenced by risk factor prevalence in years past, and trends by age group reflect risk factor exposure in birth cohorts.

The introduction of the breast screening programmes in the late-1980s also plays a part for females.

References

  1. Data were provided by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (part of Public Health England), on request through the Office for Data Release, November 2019. Similar data can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, December 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2019. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 1993-2017, ICD-10 C50.

Last reviewed:

Overall stage at diagnosis

A high proportion (89-97%) of breast cancer cases in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a stage at diagnosis recorded.[1-3]

More breast cancer patients with a known stage are diagnosed at an early stage (79-87% are diagnosed at stage I or II), than a late stage (13-21% are diagnosed at stage III or IV). Between 6% and 7% of people have metastases at diagnosis (stage IV).[1-3]

The stage distribution for each cancer type will reflect many factors including how the cancer type develops, the way symptoms appear, public awareness of symptoms, how quickly a person goes to see their doctor and how quickly the cancer is recognised and diagnosed by a doctor. It might also relate to whether a national screening programme that can detect early stage disease exists for that cancer type, along with the extent of uptake of that programme.

A cancer type associated with a large proportion of early stage diagnoses could be one that is more likely to be symptomatic at an earlier stage of development, with recognisable symptoms rather than more generic ones.

Breast Cancer (C50), Proportion of Cases Diagnosed at Each Stage, All Ages, England 2014, Scotland 2014-2015 and Northern Ireland 2010-2014

Data should not be compared between countries due to differences in time periods and possible differences in recording of stage at diagnosis.

Stage at diagnosis by deprivation

Late stage at diagnosis of breast cancer in England is associated with higher deprivation. Among adults aged 15-99 in England, 20% of those in the most deprived areas are diagnosed at stage III or IV, versus 15% of those in the least deprived areas.[4]

Stage at diagnosis by age

Late stage at diagnosis of breast cancer in England is more common in older adults (aged 80+) in England (23%), compared to those aged 60-79 (15%) and aged 15-59 (16%).[4]

There is no difference between late stage at diagnosis for breast cancer between those aged 60-79 and 15-59 in England.[4]

These patterns by deprivation, age and sex are probably not explained by other demographic differences.[5]

Stage at diagnosis by Ethnicity

Late stage at diagnosis for breast cancer in England is more common in Black African (25%) and Black Caribbean adults (22%), compared to White British adults (13%) after adjusting for age, sex and deprivation.[6]

References

  1. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Stage Breakdown by CCG 2014. London: NCIN; 2016.
  2. ISD Scotland, Detect Cancer Early Staging Data. Scotland: ISD; 2016
  3. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Queens University Belfast. Incidence by stage 2010-2014. Belfast: NICR; 2016.
  4. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Routes to diagnosis of cancer by stage 2012-2013 workbook. London: NCRAS; 2016
  5. Lyratzopoulos G, Abel G, Brown C, et al. Socio-demographic inequalities in stage of cancer diagnosis: evidence from patients with female breast, lung, colon, rectal, prostate, renal, bladder, melanoma, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Annals of Oncology, 2012:843-50.
  6. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Ethnicity and stage at diagnosis. London: NCRAS; 2016

About this data

Data is for : England 2014, Scotland 2014-2015, Northern Ireland 2010-2014, ICD-10 C50 (overall stage at diagnosis) and England, 2012-2013, ICD-10 C50 (stage at diagnosis by deprivation, age, sex, and ethnicity)

Data is not comparable between countries due to differences in time periods and possible differences in how countries record stage at diagnosis.

The proportions of patients diagnosed late only include cases with a known stage at diagnosis and are not adjusted for other demographics differences (e.g. age, sex, ethnicity) unless stated otherwise.

Last reviewed:

The largest proportion of breast cancer cases occur in the upper-outer quadrant of the breast, with much smaller proportions in the upper-inner, lower-outer and lower-inner quadrants, and the central portion of the breast (2010-2012).[1-4]

More than half (51.9%) of cases did not have the specific part of the breast recorded in cancer registry data, or overlapped more than one part.[1-4]

Cases and percentages may not sum due to rounding

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/CancerInformation/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2010-2012, ICD-10 C50.

Last reviewed:

Breast cancer incidence rates are projected to rise by 2% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 210 cases per 100,000 females by 2035.[1]

Breast cancer (C50), Observed and Projected Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, by Sex, UK, 1979-2035

It is projected that 71,022 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the UK in 2035.

References

  1. Smittenaar CR, Petersen KA, Stewart K, Moitt N. Cancer Incidence and Mortality Projections in the UK Until 2035. Brit J Cancer 2016.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 1979-2014 (observed), 2015-2035 (projected), ICD-10 C50

Projections are based on observed incidence and mortality rates and therefore implicitly include changes in cancer risk factors, diagnosis and treatment. It is not possible to assess the statistical significance of changes between 2014 (observed) and 2035 (projected) figures. Confidence intervals are not calculated for the projected figures. Projections are by their nature uncertain because unexpected events in future could change the trend. It is not sensible to calculate a boundary of uncertainty around these already uncertain point estimates. Changes are described as 'increase' or 'decrease' if there is any difference between the point estimates.

More on projections methodology

Last reviewed:

Breast cancer incidence rates (European age-standardised (AS) rates Open a glossary item) in England in females are 14% lower in the most deprived quintile compared with the least, and in males are similar in the most deprived quintile compared with the least (2013-2017).[1]

It is estimated that there are around 3,000 fewer cases of breast cancer each year in England in females than there would be if every deprivation quintile had the same age-specific crude incidence rates as the least deprived quintile.

Breast Cancer (C50), Estimated Average Number of Fewer Cases per Year, by Deprivation Quintile, England, 2013-2017

Breast Cancer (C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, by Deprivation Quintile, England, 2013-2017

No data are shown for males as the difference in age-standardised incidence rates between most and least deprived quintiles is not significant for males.

References

  1. Calculated by the Cancer Intelligence Team at Cancer Research UK, April 2020. Based on method reported in National Cancer Intelligence Network Cancer by Deprivation in England Incidence, 1996-2010 Mortality, 1997-2011 . Using cancer incidence data 2013-2017 (Public Health England) and population data 2013-2017 (Office for National Statistics) by Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2015 income domain quintile, cancer type, sex, and five-year age band.

About this data

Data is for England, 2013-2017, ICD-10 C21.

Last reviewed:

Age-standardised Open a glossary item rates for White females with breast cancer range from 122.4 to 125.7 per 100,000. Rates for Asian females are significantly lower, ranging from 59.7 to 92.3 per 100,000 and the rates for Black females are also significantly lower, ranging from 68.8 to 107.9 per 100,000.[1]

Ranges are given because of the analysis methodology used to account for missing and unknown data. For female breast cancer, 187,620 cases were identified; 25% had no known ethnicity.

References

  1. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) and Cancer Research UK. Cancer Incidence and Survival by Major Ethnic Group, England, 2002-2006. London: NCIN; 2009.

About this data

Data is for England, 2002-2006, ICD-10 C50

Last reviewed:

An estimated 491,300 women who had been diagnosed with female breast cancer between 1991 and 2010 were alive in the UK at the end of 2010.[1]

References

  1. Macmillan Cancer Support and National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Cancer Prevalence UK Data Tables. London: NCRAS; 2015.

About this data

Data is for: Great Britain (1991-2010) and Northern Ireland (1993-2010), ICD-10 C50.

Last reviewed:

Male breast cancer incidence rates have remained stable in Great Britain since the late 1970s.[1-3] European age-standardised Open a glossary item (AS) incidence rates remained stable between 1979-1981 and 2011-2013.

Breast Cancer (C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, Great Britain, 1979-2013

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

Over the last decade in the UK (between 2002-2004 and 2011-2013), male breast cancer AS incidence rates have remained stable.[1-4]

Breast Cancer (C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, UK, 1993-2013

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

Male breast cancer incidence rates have remained stable overall for most age groups in Great Britain since the late 1970s.[1-3] The greatest change in incidence rates has been at age 50-59 with rates rising by 53% between 1979-1981 and 2011-2013. Rates in males aged 80+ have fluctuated but overall remained stable since the late 1970s.

Breast Cancer (C50), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, by Age, Great Britain, 1979-2013

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp#605
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, February 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=51358
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, March 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
  5. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). One, Five and Ten Year Cancer Prevalence by Cancer Network, UK, 2006. London: NCIN; 2010. 

About this data

Data is for: 1993-2013 (UK) and 1979-2013 (Great Britain), Males, ICD-10 C21

Last reviewed:

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.