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Incidence of breast cancer

Geographical variations in incidence/mortality
Geographical variations in incidence/mortality

Approximately 25,000 women develop breast cancer annually in the UK. Many women still die from this disease each year in spite of increased cure rates over the last two decades. The age specific incidence rises by a factor four as the age rises from 35-70 years and by the age of 80 there is a 1/12 chance for women developing this disease. Male breast cancer counts for less than 1% of cases.


Many risk factors have been associated with breast cancer. These include age, race, previous benign breast disease, previous breast cancer diagnoses, lifestyle habits, reproductive factors, family history and genetic factors, exposure to radiation and environmental factors.


Breast cancer incidence rates, taken from a large database of American patients, suggests a decline over the last few years which may be linked to discontinuation of hormone replacement therapy.


Breast cancer incidence rates are highest in northern Europe and North America but the rates are rising in other countries suggesting a relationship to societal change.


Overall, death from breast cancer continues to decline and this is thought to be due to the early detection of breast cancer and the more widely available adjuvant early therapies consisting of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological treatments.

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