Breast Cancer: Survival Rates And Statistics

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting women in the United States, accounting for about half of new cancers diagnosed each year.

About 2% of women will get invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, and nearly 40% of those who survive will suffer from early-stage symptoms.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, you are certainly not alone.

Below, we break down breast cancer survival rates in the context of factors such as race, age, and cancer type. 

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By type

There are different types of breast cancer, which all tend to share a similar five-year relative survival rate.

The survival rate compares individuals with the same specific type and stage of breast cancer to the general population. 

For example: If a five-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 85%, then that means someone with that specific type of cancer is 85% as likely to live for a minimum of five years after their diagnosis as someone who does not have cancer. 

The statistics in this section are from the SEER database¹, which is updated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). They are based on individuals diagnosed with breast cancer between 2010 and 2016.

The following are the survival rates for each type of breast cancer:

A table of data taken from the SEER database.

While these numbers might be disappointing, it’s worth noting that individuals now may have a much better outlook with a recent diagnosis.

Treatments are constantly improving and evolving. The above statistics reference individuals who were diagnosed and went through treatment five or more years ago. The current treatment offerings have already improved substantially.

By stage

Breast cancers have several stages that are rated from I-V. The survival rates for stages are similar to the survival rates for breast cancer types, as stages I-II can be compared to localized breast cancer, and stage III can be compared to regional breast cancer, for example.

Each stage is based on the breast tumor’s overall size, the condition of the lymph nodes, and whether the cancer has metastasized.

When it comes to breast cancer survival rates, the numbers are as follows for each stage:

A table with data for survival rates according to the stage of breast cancer diagnosed.

It’s worth noting that over 62% of people with breast cancer are diagnosed at stage I², which is excellent in terms of overall survival rate. If you feel a lump, make sure to get it checked as soon as possible.

By age group

Breast cancer survival rates vary depending on your age group. The risk of developing breast cancer also increases as you age.

The NCI has reported³ that out of all those diagnosed with a type of breast cancer in the United States between 2013 and 2017, only 2% were under 35. The average age that people are typically diagnosed with breast cancer is 62-63 years old. Currently, survival rates per age group are as follows:

A table with data on the survival rates of breast cancer patients according to their age.

By race and ethnicity

Individuals of different races and ethnicities have varying rates of survival⁴ when it comes to breast cancer. In general, white women have the highest chances⁵ of being diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Between 2013 and 2016, 132 out of 100,000 white women were diagnosed with some stage of breast cancer. 

Black women are also very likely to be diagnosed⁶ with breast cancer and have the highest mortality rate at 28 per 100,000 Black women. Possible reasons for this include a lack of access to medical treatment and socioeconomic roadblocks, including racism, poverty, and other systemic issues.

In general, breast cancer mortality rates for different ethnicities are as follows:

A table of data with survival rates for breast cancer patients of different races and ethnicities.


One in eight American women, or about 13% of this part of the population, will develop some form of invasive breast cancer during their lives.

In 2021, it was estimated⁷ that around 281,000 women and 2,650 men would receive this diagnosis in the U.S. It is also expected that about 49,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2021.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among U.S. women. In 2021, it has also become the most common type of cancer on a global level. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 12% of all annual cancer diagnoses globally will be breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a common form of cancer, but it is even more common in women with a family history of the disease. A person’s risk of breast cancer will almost double if a mother, sister, or daughter has been diagnosed with the disease.

Although rarer, it is also possible for men to be diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Reducing your risk

Remember that your chances of successfully fighting breast cancer are only as strong as your preventative measures. Make sure to get tested by your doctor regularly and perform at-home breast exams on yourself every month. 

It is recommended to have a screening mammogram once per year after you turn 40 due to the increased risk of breast cancer from this age. 

Self-exams, or feeling around for lumps on the breast, can be performed at home from ages 20 and up.

Will breast cancer return?

Recurrent breast cancer, which is breast cancer that returns after treatment, is a common fear among breast cancer survivors.

Breast cancer treatment is designed to destroy all cancer cells, but there is always a chance that some cancerous cells may have evaded treatment and continued to duplicate. When these undiscovered cells multiply, it is considered recurrent breast cancer.

Recurrent breast cancer can occur months or years after your initial treatment. It can return as local or distant breast cancer.

On average, about 7-11% of early breast cancer patients⁸ will experience locally recurrent breast cancer after a lumpectomy and follow-up radiation therapy.

A table with data around the recurrence rate for breast cancer patients.

It’s worth noting that sometimes breast cancer can be unpredictable, and there will always be a chance of breast cancer, at any stage, returns within a decade. With this in mind, always make sure to get a yearly mammogram.

The lowdown

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage, it’s important to seek effective treatment as soon as possible to maximize the chances of beating this disease. However, as recurrent breast cancer remains a risk following successful treatment, follow-up assessments are recommended.  If you have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s equally important to be mindful and vigilant about seeking medical advice and performing self-examinations to ensure early diagnosis if you do develop breast cancer. Early detection allows you an opportunity for effective treatment to ensure the best chance of survival. As breast cancer awareness helps to improve the outlook for breast cancer patients, make sure to keep learning about this disease, its symptoms, and treatment, especially if you’re among a more at-risk demographic.

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