Breast cancer death rates keep declining, at a slower pace

Cristina Ferrario

Breast beauty study 7 by Flickr user Anthony Charles licence CC2.0.

While breast cancer incidence rates are still on the rise, mortality rates keep decreasing, although at slower pace than in past. This is one of the take-home messages from Breast Cancer Statistics 2019-2020, the biennial update of breast cancer statistics in the United States from the American Cancer Society (ACS), recently published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and showed in the Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2019-2020.

An impressive decrease of 40% in mortality rates from 1989 to 2017 can be observed, leading to more than 375,000 breast cancer deaths avoided. But such a pace is hard to maintain: “Notably, the pace of the decline has slowed from an annual decrease of 1.9% during 1998 through 2011 to 1.3% during 2011 through 2017, largely driven by the trend in white women” Carole E. De Santis, ACS, and colleagues wrote, highlighting some racial disparities emerging from the report. Black-white disparity in breast cancer mortality has not changed since 2011, nevertheless, 28.4 deaths per 100,000 were registered in blacks vs 20.3 deaths per 100,000 in whites, translating to a 40% higher death rates in blacks. According to the experts, an expanded access to high-quality prevention, early detection and treatment services to all women could accelerate the decline in cancer mortality rates.

As for Europe, Globocan 2018 data show that breast cancer account for 1 in 4 new cancers (26.4%) in European women, and the mortality is higher in Central and Eastern Europe (cumulative risk 1.80%) compared to Western (1.65%), Northern (1.46%) and Southern (1.41%) European countries. Moreover, a paper published in The Breast showed favorable trends in EU, with breast cancer mortality rates declined by 15% from 2002 through 2012 and a further 10% decline predicted to 2020.




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