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Breast cancer remains one of the UK’s biggest health challenges. It’s still the most common cancer in the UK, and one of the leading causes of death for women under 50.

This document, the first of its kind, lays bare the situation with breast cancer in the UK today – from how many people are developing it and how many survive, through to the impact it has. And what it shows is that breast cancer isn’t yesterday’s problem.

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About the document

This document sets out the state of breast cancer in the UK today. It contains the most up-to-date, UK-wide statistics on breast cancer, including:

  • How many people have breast cancer
  • The different types and stages of breast cancer
  • Which people are most affected
  • Breast cancer risk factors
  • Health inequalities
  • The treatment and care pathway
  • The impact of breast cancer on people’s wellbeing
  • How breast cancer affects the UK economy

View the full compendium and the executive summary.

How to use the document

Whether you’re a researcher or healthcare professional, work in government or campaigning, or you support our work in any way, it will help you to understand the state of breast cancer in the UK today. We believe that by having some of the core stats at your fingertips, you will be able to make better decisions, have more influence and be part of the solution. And you can use the information in this document in your work, as long as you reference it properly.

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Key statistics  

Some of the key statistics from the document are provided below. Please download the full document for references.

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, making up 15% of all new cases. A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 10 minutes and a man every day. And if nothing is done to change this, by 2040, a woman will be diagnosed every 8 minutes.

  • There are various risk factors, the most significant being sex and age

The most significant risk factors for developing breast cancer are sex and age - 80% of breast cancer cases are in women over 50. But genetics and family history also play a part. 5-10% of women with breast cancer are thought to have an inherited altered gene that increases their risk. There are also lifestyle factors that can be managed to reduce a person’s risk.

  • Progress is being made

It’s estimated that routine screening prevents around 1,300 deaths from breast cancer each year in the UK. And overall, there’s been a dramatic improvement in the number of people surviving the disease. In the 1990s, more than 1 in 7 people died from breast cancer. Today, it’s 1 in 20.

  • Breast cancer takes its toll on quality of life

The side effects of breast cancer treatment, anxiety and health fears, can take a toll on people’s quality of life. And for many people, breast cancer can be an isolating experience, and one where relationships, sex life and intimacy can also be affected. People living with secondary breast cancer (where the cancer has spread to another part of the body) face a number of issues, including worse physical wellbeing (greater pain, fatigue) and emotional wellbeing.

  • Breast cancer has a significant effect on the economy

Breast cancer will cost the UK economy as much as £2.6-£2.8 billion in 2024. And the annual cost of breast cancer to the economy could rise by almost 40% to £3.6 billion by 2034. Wellbeing costs associated with breast cancer estimated to amount to a staggering £17.5 billion in 2024.

What's the solution?

This document sets out the problem. But what’s the solution? Our vision is that by 2050, everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will live, and be supported to live well. But that won’t happen overnight. We need to work towards that target every minute, every day. You can read about how we'll do this in our strategy, Turning the tide.

Turning the tide strategy

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