Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Canada, with an estimated 22,000 diagnoses each year.
Approximately 170 Canadian men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer cause of death in women under 50. It kills more than 5,000 Canadian women every year, more than any other type of cancer except lung.
Unlike most other cancers, relative survival continues to decline after diagnosis, from 86% at 5 years to 70% at 20 years post-diagnosis.
One in nine women will be diagnosed and 1 in 27 will die of breast cancer in their lifetime. It accounts for an estimated 95,300 potential years of life lost.
Increasing numbers of women are living with a diagnosis of breast cancer: an estimated 162,600 Canadian women alive today - about one in every 100 females - have had a diagnosis of breast cancer at some time in the past 15 years.
Incidence and mortality rates have declined consistently since 1969 in women aged 20-39.
After long-term increases in women aged 40 and over, incidence rates began to either stabilize or drop in the 1990s.
Mortality rates have declined in all ages combined and in every age group since at least the mid 1990s.
Survival has been improving gradually since the 1970s, significantly so since 1989, especially in the age groups where screening is recommended.
Incidence by age group:
Less than 1% of breast cancer cases occur in women aged 29 or younger.
20% of breast cancer cases occur in women aged 30-49.
28% of breast cancer cases occur in women aged 50 to 59.
23% of cases occur in women aged 60-69.
29% of cases occur in women aged 70 and over.
Mortality by age group:
Less than 1% of breast cancer deaths occur in women aged 29 or younger.
11% of breast cancer deaths occur in women between the ages of 30 and 49.
18% of breast cancer deaths occur in women aged 50 and 59.
18% of breast cancer deaths also occur in women aged 60-69.
52% of breast cancer deaths occur in women aged 70 and older.
The good news
Breast cancer mortality rates are expected to decline slightly in 2006.
Incidence rates of breast cancer have stabilized since 1993, and mortality rates have declined steadily at a rate of 2.7% annually.
The breast cancer mortality rate is at its lowest since 1950.
*Canadian Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute of Canada: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2006, Toronto, Canada, 2006.