Breast cancer incidence in South Africa

J Clin Oncol. 2001 Sep 15;19(18 Suppl):125S-127S.


Cancer in South Africa is an emerging health problem, with breast cancer being one of the leading cancers in women, following similar worldwide statistics. Lifetime risks of developing breast cancer vary from a low of one in 81 in African women (similar to Japan) to a high of one in 13 among white women, similar to rates in Western countries. Age and stage at diagnosis vary considerably between the different races and populations (urban v rural) living in South Africa. Many different determinants (socioeconomic, cultural, geographic accessibility to medical centers with oncologic services, availability of traditional healers, and so on) affect patients with breast cancer (mainly rural black women) in their decisions to obtain early medical help as well as to refrain from the proposed therapeutic methods (surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy). A brief overview of breast cancer in South Africa with special reference to some of the above determinants is presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Black People
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • South Africa / epidemiology