Breast Cancer Incidence Rates – they have changed.

Recently, one of our trained teachers was reviewing some of our material and highlighted an error. And we are grateful for her careful eye and engagement. Our goal is always to provide accurate data and facts. This can be challenging as information, research, data and statistics evolve and change. We wanted to share the updated details and confirm that we will be updating information that had used the prior information.

‘Good sleuthing, Heidi. And thank you! We will change the answer to that quiz question to TRUE.  This question brings to light much interesting data that has been accumulated since the incidence decline reversed and should be considered. 

Yes, breast cancer incidence rates have been increasing by 0.5% per year in recent years as per your resource. However, there has been a varying pattern of breast cancer incidence rates over the years which is important to observe. After reports from the Women’s Health Initiative randomized trial evaluating HRT, there was a sudden, substantial, and sustained decrease in age-adjusted breast cancer incidence especially among US women 50 years of age or older. The current steady increase in incidence since 2003 is likely due to a number of factors, including earlier detection through screening, better treatments, and increased awareness of the disease.

Studying all this and new data can give valuable information about predictions and management of this disease, which by the way is not one disease.  

It is important to note that the increase in breast cancer incidence rates is not due to an increase in the underlying risk of breast cancer over time. Rather it means the increase in incidence rates is likely due to factors such as:

  • Increased knowledge of risk factors due to obesity, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity.
  • Changes in screening practices: More women are getting mammograms, and mammograms are becoming more sensitive. Therefore, the detection of more early-stage breast cancers, which are less likely to be fatal, has increased.
  • Changes in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use: HRT can increase the risk of breast cancer.  

On the other hand, it is important to note that breast cancer death rates have been decreasing steadily since 1989.  Despite the increase in incidence rates, breast cancer is still a very treatable disease. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 90%. This means that 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive five years later. 

Here is some data and research on the rise in breast cancer incidence:

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