Global patterns of breast cancer incidence and mortality: A population-based cancer registry data analysis from 2000 to 2020

Cancer Commun (Lond). 2021 Nov;41(11):1183-1194. doi: 10.1002/cac2.12207. Epub 2021 Aug 16.


Background: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and leading cause of cancer death among women worldwide but has patterns and trends which vary in different countries. This study aimed to evaluate the global patterns of breast cancer incidence and mortality and analyze its temporal trends for breast cancer prevention and control.

Methods: Breast cancer incidence and mortality data in 2020 were obtained from the GLOBOCAN online database. Continued data from the Cancer Incidence in Five Continents Time Trends, the International Agency for Research on cancer mortality and China National Central Cancer Registry were used to analyze the time trends from 2000 to 2015 through Joinpoint regression, and annual average percent changes of breast cancer incidence and mortality were calculated. Association between Human Development Index and breast cancer incidence and mortality were estimated by linear regression.

Results: There were approximately 2.3 million new breast cancer cases and 685,000 breast cancer deaths worldwide in 2020. Its incidence and mortality varied among countries, with the age-standardized incidence ranging from the highest of 112.3 per 100,000 population in Belgium to the lowest of 35.8 per 100,000 population in Iran, and the age-standardized mortality from the highest of 41.0 per 100,000 population in Fiji to the lowest of 6.4 per 100,000 population in South Korea. The peak age of breast cancer in some Asian and African countries were over 10 years earlier than in European or American countries. As for the trends of breast cancer, the age-standardized incidence rates significantly increased in China and South Korea but decreased in the United States of America (USA) during 2000-2012. Meanwhile, the age-standardized mortality rates significantly increased in China and South Korea but decreased in the United Kingdom, the USA, and Australia during 2000 and 2015.

Conclusions: The global burden of breast cancer is rising fast and varies greatly among countries. The incidence and mortality rates of breast cancer increased rapidly in China and South Korea but decreased in the USA. Increased health awareness, effective prevention strategies, and improved access to medical treatment are extremely important to curb the snowballing breast cancer burden, especially in the most affected countries.

Keywords: Breast cancer; cancer registry; cancer trends; incidence; mortality; patterns; time trends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Data Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Registries
  • United States