Breast cancer

What is breast cancer?

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 is 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.

"There is an overwhelming need for evidence-based and resource-stratified guidelines that support the phased implementation of breast cancer early detection and treatment into real-world practice."
– IARC Director Dr Elisabete Weiderpass from IARC Press release

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.  

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]

Click to open the maps in the Gallery:

Last update: 
Monday 27 September 2021
Share
More news and blogs on breast cancer
Dr Ben Anderson, who leads WHO's Global Breast Cancer Initiative in an operating room in Ghana.
28 October 2021
Blog

Health system characteristics and breast cancer: Reduced mortality depends on health equity

Marking the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Ben Anderson speaks about the importance of public cancer facilities and universal health coverage to improve survival rates for breast cancer in LMICs.

Doctor wearing mask talking. Photo by Adán Jardón. (c) UICC 2021
22 October 2021
News

UICC announces four new grants for breast cancer control in LMICs

As part of its Breast Cancer Programme, UICC is supporting four projects in advocacy, education of health care workers and patient navigation to improve early detection and timely diagnosis of breast cancer in LMICs with grants of USD 20,000 each.

UICC CEO Dr Cary Adams and Dr Julie Gralow, Chief Medical Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
20 October 2021
News

In Conversation: Promoting equity and innovation in breast cancer care

In this Conversation, Cary Adams and Julie Gralow explore how innovation can contribute to greater equity in cancer care, particularly in breast cancer as the community marks Pink October.

Breast cancer patient being assisted for a mammogram
13 October 2021
News

Addressing equity and stigma in breast cancer care

Dr Fatima Cardoso, Director of the Breast Unit of the Champalimaud Clinical Center in Lisbon, offers an in-depth look at the challenges facing breast cancer control in LMICs.

Women smiling dressed in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
6 October 2021
Blog

Cancer: the pandemic behind the pandemic

Former UICC Board Member and President of FEMAMA writes about the significant impact of delayed cancer treatment and how FEMAMA continues to fight breast cancer in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doctor advising a breast cancere patient on medicine.
Spotlight on breast cancer
4 October 2021
News

Beating breast cancer: the first year of UICC’s dedicated programme

Marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, UICC looks at the achievements of its Breast Cancer Programme launched a year ago and showcases awareness campaigns by member organisations.