The three main risk factors for breast cancer
1. Being a woman – over 99% of new cases of breast cancer are in women.
2. Getting older – more than 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. Most men who get breast cancer are over 60.
3. Significant family history – this isn’t common, around 5% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have inherited a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
Breast cancer diagnosis
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, one person is diagnosed every 10 minutes.
1 in 7 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month around 5,000 people will be diagnosed.
Breast cancer and survivorship
Breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the past 40 years in the UK.
Almost 9 in 10 women survive breast cancer for five years or more.
Every year around 11,500 people die from breast cancer in the UK.
An estimated 600,000 are alive in the UK after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is predicted to rise to 840,000 in 2020. For many the overwhelming emotional and physical effects of the disease can be long-lasting.
A Breast Cancer Care survey found 1 in 4 women (26%) found the end of treatment the hardest part of breast cancer and only 1 in 10 (10%) said they felt positive and ready to move on when they were discharged from hospital treatment. More than half (53%) struggled with anxiety at the end of treatment and nearly a third (31%) with depression.
Breast cancer signs and symptoms
Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer can lead to diagnosing the cancer sooner. This can be crucial in providing more effective treatment and, ultimately, saving lives. But a Breast Cancer Care survey found a third (33%) of women aren’t regularly checking. A fifth (20%) say it’s because they don’t know how to check their breasts.
Breast cancer doesn’t always mean a lump. Other less well known symptoms include a nipple becoming inverted or a change in texture of the skin.
Breast cancer and younger women
Around 2,200 women in the UK are diagnosed aged 39 or under, or just 4% of all cases.
A Breast Cancer Care survey found just over half (53%) of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer have no discussion with healthcare professionals about fertility preservation options, which include freezing embryos or eggs.
Breast cancer and men
Breast cancer in men is very rare with just 370 new cases in the UK each year, compared to nearly 55,000 new cases in women.
Three quarters (75%) of male breast cancer deaths in the UK are in men aged 65 and over.
A Breast Cancer Care survey found nearly three-quarters (73%) of men don’t check their breasts for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, even though the same number (73%) know that men can get the disease.
Secondary breast cancer
Secondary breast cancer is when breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, most commonly the bones, brain, lungs or liver. It cannot be cured but it can be treated, sometimes for a number of years.
Two thirds (66%) of Hospital Trusts in England do not know how many of their patients have incurable secondary breast cancer, according to Breast Cancer Care findings. It’s estimated there are around 35,000 people in the UK living with the disease, but with such incomplete data collection, we can’t be sure.
Close to half (42%) of NHS Trusts and Health Boards surveyed by Breast Cancer Care do not provide specialist nursing care for people with incurable breast cancer.
For care, support and information, call Breast Cancer Care's free Helpline on 0808 800 6000