Background: This paper presents the latest international descriptive epidemiological data for invasive breast cancer amongst women, including incidence, survival and mortality, as well as information on mammographic screening programmes.
Results: Almost 1.4 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide in 2008 and approximately 459,000 deaths were recorded. Incidence rates were much higher in more developed countries compared to less developed countries (71.7/100,000 and 29.3/100,000 respectively, adjusted to the World 2000 Standard Population) whereas the corresponding mortality rates were 17.1/100,000 and 11.8/100,000. Five-year relative survival estimates range from 12% in parts of Africa to almost 90% in the United States, Australia and Canada, with the differential linked to a combination of early detection, access to treatment services and cultural barriers. Observed improvements in breast cancer survival in more developed parts of the world over recent decades have been attributed to the introduction of population-based screening using mammography and the systemic use of adjuvant therapies.
Conclusion: The future worldwide breast cancer burden will be strongly influenced by large predicted rises in incidence throughout parts of Asia due to an increasingly "westernised" lifestyle. Efforts are underway to reduce the global disparities in survival for women with breast cancer using cost-effective interventions.
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