U.S. cancer mortality data derived from information recorded on death certificates are frequently relied upon as an indicator of progress against cancer. A limitation of this measure is the lack of information pertaining to the onset of disease, such as year-of-diagnosis, age-at-diagnosis, stage of disease at diagnosis and histology of lesions. However, population-based cancer registries collect these types of data and allow the calculation of an incidence-file based mortality rate. This incidence-based mortality rate allows a partitioning of mortality by variables associated with the cancer onset. Breast cancer incidence-based mortality measures are created and compared to mortality rates based on death certificates over a comparable time period. Novel mortality measures, such as mortality rates by stage-at-diagnosis, age-at-diagnosis and year-of-diagnosis, are used to illustrate the value of this approach.