Decrease in breast cancer deaths

Women wearing pink shirts

Today, fewer American women are dying from breast cancer. In the past 10 years, the death rates from breast cancer have dropped an average of 1.9% per year, while the rate of breast cancer diagnoses has been stable.1 Federally funded research, increased screening, and new and improved treatments have saved lives and improved women's quality of life when they are confronted with a breast cancer diagnosis.

30 years ago...

  • Breast cancer death rates for all women peaked in 1985 at 32.98 per 100,000 women.2
  • Mastectomy (surgery to remove the breast) was the commonly accepted surgical option for breast cancer treatment.4
  • Scientists began studying hormonal treatments (called selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMs) after breast cancer surgery.6
  • We did not know which genetic factors increased a woman's risk for breast cancer.8
  • Prevention of breast cancer seemed unlikely.

Today...

  • Thanks to new cancer treatments and screening that finds cancer earlier, the breast cancer death rate for all women continues to decline, and is currently at 21.92 per 100,000 women.3
  • Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) and radiation treatment have replaced mastectomy for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer.5
  • Hormonal medications (like tamoxifen) are now standard for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, both as an additional treatment before or after surgery, and in treating inoperable breast cancer. 7
  • We now know of several genetic mutations (changes to genes) that can lead to breast cancer, including BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, and PTEN/MMAC1.9
  • Women who are at high risk because of a breast cancer gene (or other family history) now have medical and surgical options to help prevent breast cancer. And all women can take steps, such as eating right and exercising, to help reduce their risk for breast cancer.10

Sources

  1. NIH, NCI, Cancer of the Breast - SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Breast Cancer
  2. NIH, NCI, Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2010 - Table 4.10 Cancer of the Female Breast (Invasive)
  3. NIH, NCI, Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2010 - Table 4.10 Cancer of the Female Breast (Invasive)
  4. NIH, NCI, Cancer Advances in Focus – Breast Cancer
  5. NIH, NCI, Cancer Trends Progress Report – 2011/2012 Update – Breast Cancer Treatment
  6. NIH, NCI, Cancer Advances in Focus – Breast Cancer
  7. NIH, NCI, Cancer Advances in Focus – Breast Cancer
  8. NIH, NCI, Cancer Advances in Focus – Breast Cancer
  9. NIH, NCI, Cancer Advances in Focus – Breast Cancer
  10. NIH, NCI, Breast Cancer Risk in American Women