Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer globally. 

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among women worldwide, accounting for 1 in 4 cancer cases. It is the most frequent cancer amongst both sexes and is the leading cause of death from cancer in women. The estimated 2.3 million new cases indicate that one in every 8 cancers diagnosed in 2020 was breast cancer. In 2020, there were an estimated 684,996 deaths from breast cancer, with a disproportionate number of these deaths occurring in low-resource settings.[1]

Breast cancer cells usually form a tumour that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. If spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels, it becomes advanced breast cancer. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body (such as the liver, lungs, bones or brain), it is said to have metastasised, and is referred to as metastatic breast cancer.

“With breast cancer now the most common cancer globally and the most likely reason a woman will die from cancer, countries need to embrace the concept of improving breast cancer outcomes if they are going to address cancer as a health priority.”
– Dr Ben Anderson, Medical Officer, Cancer Control, WHO


Survival rates for breast cancer are very high when the cancer is detected early and where treatment is available. Unfortunately, 50 to 80% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage [2] in many low- and middle-income countries, when the cancer is more difficult to treat, is more expensive to do so, and is usually incurable. 

Despite advances and progress seen in breast cancer in recent years, current data highlights that breast cancer incidence is to grow of 80 in the next 20 years, and mortality is expected to double, with a disproportionate number of cases and deaths expected to occur in low-resource settings.

To tackle the growing breast cancer burden, it is critical that improvements are made in access to early detection, timely access to treatment and care, palliative and survivorship care, and comprehensive data collection through robust cancer registries.[3]

UICC's Podcast on breast cancer

Doctor and patient at the Hellenic Cancer Society demonstrating self-exam

In order to help address the high mortality rates of breast cancer cases in low resource settings, UICC has launched a series of initiatives to encourage early detection and improve access to treatment and care.

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people around a stand selling pink products

This page regroups important resources such as infographics, videos, articles and tools related to breast cancer control.

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Femama Breast Cancer

UICC’s Breast Cancer programme is designed to respond to the urgent need to accelerate progress in breast cancer.

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Woman dressed in pink holding a pink ribbon, symbolising breast cancer awareness month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been celebrated every October since the nineties. It is called 'Pink October' as people around the world adopt the pink colour and display a pink ribbon to raise awareness about breast health.

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Latest news and blog articles on breast cancer

Podcast "Let's Talk Cancer": Colour in breast cancer care – tackling racial disparities

Two Black women back-to-back, cropped just above the breast, heads turned towards the camera
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Jordan Breast Cancer Program: How Arab nations are tackling breast cancer

Women sitting in chairs in a row in a hospital in Turkey receiving cancer treatment
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National action to improve the early detection of breast cancer

Doctor using a chart to explain healthy eating to a woman patient
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Podcast "Let's Talk Cancer": Gautami Tadimalla – from patient to advocate

Gautami Tadimalla, Actress and Founder of Life Again Foundation
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Podcast "Let's Talk Cancer": Closing the care gap in breast cancer survival

Health care worker at FUCAM in Mexico, with large pink ribbon in the background symbolising Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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Healthy diet and physical activity can lower the risk of death after breast cancer diagnosis

Doctor advising a breast cancere patient on medicine.
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Last update

Thursday 14 September 2023

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