Breast Cancer Facts

INCIDENCE


There are more than twice as many new breast cancer cases annually than new cases of cancer in any other site.1
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in European women with an estimated incidence of 494,000 in 2012.2
Incidence in the EU-28 in 2012 was estimated to be 361,600.2

1 in 8 women in the EU-28 will develop breast cancer before the age of 85.
Around 20% of breast cancer cases in Europe occur in women when they are younger than 50 years old2
37% occur at age 50–64 and the remaining cases in women above this age2
Breast cancer therefore affects many women during their years dedicated to working and raising a family

Mortality and survival


Breast cancer has the highest mortality of any cancer in women worldwide.1 Breast cancer claims the lives of more European women than any other cancer.4

30.4% OTHER CANCERS
16.8% BREAST
13.0% COLON AND RECTUM
12.7% LUNG
6.7% PANCREAS
5.6% STOMACH
5.5% OVARY
3.1% CERVIX UTERI
3.1% LEUKEMIA
3.0% CORPUS UTERI


Estimated number of women who died from breast cancer in 20121

Europe:

142,980

EU-28 member states:

91,585

The average 5-year relative survival of European women diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995-1999 was


79.5%5

Estimated numbers and age-standardised breast cancer incidence and mortality rates* in women per 100,000 in 2012.2

Country/Region Incidence Mortality
Numbers Age-standardised rate (W) Numbers Age-standardised rate (W)
WHO Europe region 494,076 66.5 142,979 16.0
EU-28 361,608 82.1 91,585 15.5
Albania 1022 53.9 323 16.0
Armenia 1704 74.1 609 24.2
Austria 5254 68.0 1512 14.4
Belarus 3781 45.9 1263 14.2
Belgium 10,337 111.9 2523 20.3
Bulgaria 3928 58.5 1391 17.2
Croatia 2641 60.9 920 16.7
Cyprus 604 78.4 132 14.9
Czech Republic 6854 70.3 1617 12.8
Denmark 5224 105.0 1198 18.8
Estonia 658 51.6 258 15.7
Finland 4477 89.4 860 13.6
France (metropolitan) 48,763 89.7 11,933 16.4
Georgia 1541 44.0 530 13.2
Germany 71,623 91.6 16,828 15.5
Greece 4934 43.9 2138 14.1
Hungary 5094 54.5 1914 16.2
Iceland 225 96.3 39 14.4
Ireland 2899 92.3 704 19.1
Israel 4010 80.5 990 17.3
Italy 50,658 91.3 12,796 15.8
Kazakhstan 6252 63.0 1865 18.0
Kyrgyzstan 662 27.3 265 11.2
Latvia 1145 52.1 433 17.6
Lithuania 1479 48.7 607 16.3
Luxembourg 360 89.1 72 13.1
FYR Macedonia 1152 76.2 431 21.5
Malta 314 85.9 77 18.1
Republic of Moldova 1104 38.7 550 18.3
The Netherlands 13,895 99.0 3163 18.0
Norway 2887 73.1 635 12.5
Poland 17,259 51.9 5373 13.8
Portugal 6088 67.6 1570 13.1
Romania 8981 50.0 3244 15.2
Russian Federation 57,502 45.6 24,544 17.2
Serbia 5422 69.0 2039 22.0
Slovakia 2643 57.5 698 13.1
Slovenia 1258 66.5 420 15.6
Spain 25,215 67.3 6075 11.8
Sweden 6624 80.4 1450 13.4
Switzerland 5750 83.1 1196 13.6
Tajikistan 520 20.4 210 8.7
Turkey 15,230 40.8 5199 13.4
Ukraine 16,471 41.3 8123 18.4
United Kingdom 52,399 95.0 11,679 17.1
Uzbekistan 3370 27.1 1269 10.6

*Age-standardised rate (W): A rate is the number of new cases or deaths per 100,000 persons per year. An age-standardised rate is the rate that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardization is necessary when comparing several populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of cancer.

FACTS ABOUT LIFESTYLE AND BREAST CANCER


The increasing number of breast cancer cases may be due to changes in lifestyle habits, increase in sedentary lifestyle, weight gain and obesity and sociological changes such as increasing age at first birth and decreasing number of children born to women.1

Physical activity and weight

Excess body weight and physical inactivity account for approximately 25–33% of breast cancer cases.6

There is an inverse relationship between obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) and breast cancer in pre-menopausal women and a direct relationship in post-menopausal women.1

Inactivity is estimated to cause 10-16% of all breast cancer cases.7

The effect of weight loss is independent of physical activity. 7

Reproductive factors

Having children at a younger age (under 30), having several children, and breast-feeding for long periods of time reduces breast cancer risk.1

Having first menstruation prior to 12 years old and/or menopause after age 55 increases the probability of developing breast cancer.12 For each year in delay of menarche the risk decreases by about 15% and for each year of delay of menopause it increases about 3%.1,13

Alcohol consumption

Meta analyses show that breast cancer risk increases by around 7-12% per unit of alcohol per day.8,9,10 Light drinkers, up to one alcoholic drink per day (which corresponds to 12 grams or 15 ml of pure alcohol) have a 5% higher breast cancer risk compared with non drinkers.11

Menopausal therapy and use of contraceptives

There is a very clear connection between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the risk of developing breast cancer.14,15 In the Million Women Study, current users of HRT at recruitment were more likely than never users to develop breast cancer (adjusted relative risk 1.66).16 Breast cancer risk increases the longer HRT is taken.14,15 

Based on a comprehensive amount of evidence, the IARC has concluded that long-term combined estrogen-progestogen menopausal therapy causes cancers of the breast.1

The risk depends on the length of use of HRT and is reduced once treatment is stopped, levelling off 5 or more years after stopping treatment.13

Combined estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, notably among young women1

Women currently or recently taking oral contraceptives have a 15-25% higher risk of breast cancer compared with women who have never used oral contraceptives. This risk levels off 10 or more years after stopping oral contraceptive use.13

REFERENCES
  1. Stewart BW, Wild CP, editors (2014). World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer
  2. M. Ervik, F. Lam, J. Ferlay, L. Mery, I. Soerjomataram, F. Bray (2016). Cancer Today. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Cancer Today. Available from: http://gco.iarc.fr/today, accessed [30/05/2018].
  3. Curado MP, Edwards B, Shin HR, Storm H, Ferlay J, Heanue M et al. Cancer Incidence in Five Continents, Vol. IX, IARC Scientific Publications No. 160. IARCPress: Lyon: 2007.
  4. J. Ferlay et al. Cancer Incidence and Mortality Patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. Eur J Cancer 49 (2013) 1374–1403
  5. Berrino F, Verdecchia A, Lutz JM, Lombardo C, Micheli A, Capocaccia R; EUROCARE Working Group. et al. EUROCARE Working group. Comparative cancer survival information in Europe. Eur J Cancer 2009, 45(6): 901-8. EUROCARE 4 study (http://www.eurocare.it/DatabaseEU4/tabid/78/Default.aspx)
  6. The International Agency for Research on Cancer.
  7. The International Agency for Research on Cancer. Weight Control and Physical Activity. IARC Handbook of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 6. IARC: Lyon 2002.
  8. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer - collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 58 515 women with breast cancer and 95 067 women without the disease. Br J Cancer 2002;87(11):1234-45.
  9. Allen NE, Beral V, Casabonne D, et al. Moderate Alcohol Intake and Cancer Incidence in Women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2009;101(5):296-305.
  10. Key J, Hodgson S, Omar R, et al. Meta- analysis of Studies of Alcohol and Breast Cancer with Consideration of the Methodological Issues. Cancer Cause Control 2006;17(6):759-70
  11. Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Light alcohol drinking and cancer: a meta-analysis. Ann Oncol2012;24(2):301- 8. 2008
  12. CDC - National Center for Health Statistics- What are risk factors for Breast Cancer. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm. accessed on 6/4/2017
  13. Boyle, P., Levin, B. (eds.). World Health Organisation. International Agency for Research on Cancer. World Cancer Report 2008.
  14. Women’s Health Initiative Study (www.whi.org).
  15. Million Women Study (www.millionwomenstudy.org).
  16. Million Women Study Collaborators. Breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy in the Million Women Study. Lancet 2003, 362: 419-27