9 Breast Cancer Statistics Everyone Should Know In 2019


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and though you're probably familiar with efforts to find a cure, you may not realize just how prevalent the disease is. Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of women are affected every year, and that only scratches the surface. Staying on top of statistics about breast cancer and strides in research is crucial if you want to be part of the push for a cure this month and throughout the rest of the year.

The American Cancer Society released a new report Wednesday that predicts nearly 42,000 women in the United States will die of breast cancer in 2019. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out, men can also get breast cancer, albeit at a much lower rate. Given the urgency, some organizations have been working to emphasize action over awareness, Marketplace reported on the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That can include supporting survivors, donating to research organizations, and educating yourself. And when it comes down to it, learning about risk factors, preventative measures, and how to perform a breast self-exam is always a good idea too, regardless of your personal risk.

Here are 9 especially important statistics everyone should take into account this month:

1. 268,600 Women Are Expected To Be Diagnosed In 2019

More than 271,000 people in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, with the majority being women, according to the American Cancer Society. To put this number in perspective, someone is diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. roughly every two minutes, per the National Breast Cancer Foundation. While certain demographics are at a higher risk for breast cancer, the disease affects women from all backgrounds.

2. Death Rates Are Declining

There is some encouraging news: mortality rates for breast cancer continue to trend downward. While more people are being diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, the death rate declined 40% from 1989 to 2017.

3. 1 in 8 Women Will Be Diagnosed In Their Lifetimes

Per breast cancer nonprofit organization Susan G. Komen, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives, which means that 12.5% of women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. That means there's a good chance that someone you've met has been affected by the disease.

4. Early Detection Increases Survival Rates

Sixty-two percent of breast cancer patients are diagnosed before the disease spreads, according to the American Cancer Society — and the 5-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 99%. Mammograms can detect breast tumors long before you'd feel anything in a self-exam, so regular testing can make a difference.

5. Black Women Are At Higher Risk

Even though breast cancer death rates are declining for all races, Black women are still more likely to die from the condition than white women — the survival rate for Black women is about 10% less than it is for white women. According to research from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, this may happen because Black women face more barriers to accessing care.

6. Breast Cancer Is The Most Fatal Cancer For Hispanic Women

Lung cancer is the most fatal cancer for women in the U.S. overall, but it's the leading cause of cancer death for Hispanic women, even though they are diagnosed with breast cancer at lower rates. Per the American Cancer Society, Hispanic women are less likely to receive timely treatment, which could contribute to survival rates.

7. Breast Cancer Is The Most Common Cancer Among Pregnant Women

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, breast cancer is the most common cancer among pregnant women, and it can be hard to detect because pregnancy can cause the size and texture of your breasts to change. Breast cancer in pregnancy can sometimes be safely treated without harming the fetus — it depends on how aggressive the cancer is. If you're pregnant and notice a breast lump, it's always a good idea to tell your obstetrician right away.

8. Women Older Than 50 Are At A Higher Risk

If you're older than 50, you're more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. According to Susan G. Komen, more than 95% of breast cancer patients are older than 40.

Even though it's more common among older women, breast cancer affects women of all ages, which is why it's important to check your breasts for any irregularities, like dimpling, redness, lumps and nipple discharge.

9. Family History Increases Your Risks Of Breast Cancer

If your mom, sister or daughter is diagnosed with breast cancer, you are twice as likely to develop breast cancer yourself, according to the American Cancer Society. Because family history is such a huge risk factor, you should talk to your doctor if a close relative is diagnosed with the disease.

In addition to staying informed, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is also an opportunity to help breast cancer survivors and support the search for a cure. If you want to get more actively involved, the National Breast Cancer Foundation has some recommendations, and it's a great place to start. And lastly, you can take a look at breast cancer research organizations if you'd like to donate.