Trends in breast cancer by race and ethnicity

CA Cancer J Clin. 2003 Nov-Dec;53(6):342-55. doi: 10.3322/canjclin.53.6.342.


In this article, the American Cancer Society (ACS) describes trends in incidence, mortality, and survival rates of female breast cancer in the United States by race and ethnicity. It also provides estimates of new cases and deaths and shows trends in screening mammography. The incidence and survival data derive from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program; mortality data are from the National Center for Health Statistics. Approximately 211,300 new cases of invasive breast cancer, 55,700 in situ cases, and 39,800 deaths are expected to occur among women in the United States in 2003. Breast cancer incidence rates have increased among women of all races combined and white women since the early 1980s. The increasing rate in white women predominantly involves small (< or = 2 cm) and localized-stage tumors, although a small increase in the incidence of regional-stage tumors and those larger than five cm occurred since the early 1990s. The incidence rate among African American women stabilized during the 1990s for all breast cancers and for localized tumors. African American women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with large tumors and distant-stage disease. Other racial and ethnic groups have lower incidence rates than do either white or African American women. However, the proportion of disease diagnosed at advanced stage and with larger tumor size in all minorities is greater than in white persons. Death rates decreased by 2.5% per year among white women since 1990 and by 1% per year among African American women since 1991. The disparity in mortality rates between white and African American women increased progressively between 1980 and 2000, so that by 2000 the age-standardized death rate was 32% higher in African Americans. Clinicians should be aware that 63% and 29% of breast cancers are diagnosed at local- and regional-stage disease, for which the five-year relative survival rates are 97% and 79%, respectively. This information, coupled with decreasing mortality rates and improvements in treatment, may motivate women to have regular mammographic and clinical breast examinations. Continued efforts are needed to increase the availability of high-quality mammography and treatment to all segments of the population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • Prognosis
  • Racial Groups*
  • Reference Values
  • SEER Program / statistics & numerical data*
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology