Breast Cancer Facts

INCIDENCE


There are more than twice as many new breast cancer cases annually than new cases of cancer in any other site1
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in European women with an estimated incidence of 562,500 in 20182
(WHO Europe Region)
Incidence in the EU-28 in 2018 was estimated to be 404,9202

1 in 8 women in the EU-28 will develop breast cancer before the age of 853
Around 20% of breast cancer cases in Europe occur in women when they are younger than 50 years old2
36% 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. Breast cancer claims the lives of more European women than any other cancer.2

36.1% OTHER CANCERS
16.1% BREAST
14.1% LUNG
13.1% COLORECTUM
7.3% PANCREAS
5.2% OVARY
4.7% STOMACH
3.5% CORPUS UTERI


Estimated number of women who died from breast cancer in 20182


WHO Europe region:

150,700

EU-28 member states:

98,735

The average 5-year relative survival of European women diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995-1999 was4


79.5%

Estimated numbers and age-standardised breast cancer incidence and mortality rates* in women per 100,000 in 2018.2

Country/Region Incidence Mortality
Numbers Age-standardised rate (W)* Numbers Age-standardised rate (W)*
WHO Europe region** 562,568 -- 150,700 --
EU-28 404,920 -- 98,735 --
Albania 973 48.1 253 11.1
Armenia 1054 43.3 557 20.6
Austria 5915 71.1 1716 14.3
Belarus 4496 50.4 1261 12.9
Belgium 11,851 113.2 2463 16.3
Bulgaria 4016 59.1 1387 16.4
Croatia 2856 68.7 1108 18.2
Cyprus 725 81.7 179 16.9
Czech Republic 7436 70.7 1580 11.4
Denmark 4628 88.8 1086 14.7
Estonia 801 61.2 250 14.1
Finland 4770 89.5 789 11.3
France 56,162 99.1 13,353 15.4
Georgia 1141 34.0 597 15.9
Germany 71,888 85.4 19,376 15.7
Greece 7734 69.3 2207 13.5
Hungary 8215 85.5 2212 17.9
Iceland 225 85.2 58 17.2
Ireland 3334 90.3 791 17.6
Israel 4250 78.5 1113 16.6
Italy 57,039 92.8 12,501 13.8
Kazakhstan 4211 37.2 1727 14.8
Kyrgyzstan 697 23.7 296 10.2
Latvia 1266 62.8 446 17.7
Lithuania 1742 59.6 575 16.0
Luxembourg 515 109.3 100 15.8
FYR Macedonia 1000 61.5 317 17.2
Malta 355 87.6 64 12.7
Republic of Moldova 1646 48.2 723 19.7
The Netherlands 16,209 105.9 3300 16.5
Norway 3803 87.5 635 11.0
Poland 20,203 59.1 6921 15.8
Portugal 6974 70.7 1748 11.3
Romania 9629 51.6 3378 14.6
Russian Federation 71,426 53.6 23,181 15.1
Serbia 5809 75.3 2151 21.9
Slovakia 2999 59.4 1024 16.5
Slovenia 1377 68.5 399 13.4
Spain 32,825 75.4 6421 10.6
Sweden 8017 89.8 1512 11.4
Switzerland 7029 88.1 1304 12.3
Tajikistan 530 14.8 216 6.5
Turkey 22,345 45.6 5452 10.5
Ukraine 18,958 44.6 8284 16.7
United Kingdom 55,439 93.6 11,849 14.4
Uzbekistan 3508 22.6 1830 11.8

*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.

**WHO Europe region includes 53 countries. Incidence data include all countries except for Andorra, Monaco and San Marino.

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.5

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.6

The effect of weight loss is independent of physical activity. 6

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.11 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%.1,12

Alcohol consumption

Meta analyses show that breast cancer risk increases by around 7-12% per unit of alcohol per day.7,8,9 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.10

Menopausal therapy and use of contraceptives

There is a very clear connection between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the risk of developing breast cancer.13,14 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).15 Breast cancer risk increases the longer HRT is taken.13,14 

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.12

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.12

REFERENCES
  1. Stewart BW, Wild CP, editors (2014). World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer
  2. Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, Colombet M, Mery L, Piñeros M, Znaor A, Soerjomataram I, Bray F (2018). Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Available from: http://gco.iarc.fr/today [accessed on 30 October 2018]. Statistics for Europe are based on WHO Europe region of 53 countries. Data for Andorra, Monaco and San Marino are not included.
  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. 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)
  5. The International Agency for Research on Cancer.
  6. The International Agency for Research on Cancer. Weight Control and Physical Activity. IARC Handbook of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 6. IARC: Lyon 2002.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Light alcohol drinking and cancer: a meta-analysis. Ann Oncol2012;24(2):301- 8. 2008
  11. 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 4 June 2017]
  12. Boyle, P., Levin, B. (eds.). World Health Organization. International Agency for Research on Cancer. World Cancer Report 2008.
  13. Women’s Health Initiative Study (www.whi.org).
  14. Million Women Study (www.millionwomenstudy.org).
  15. Million Women Study Collaborators. Breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy in the Million Women Study. Lancet 2003, 362: 419-27