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Alan Stolier, MD/

BREAST CANCER INCIDENCE RISING AS PLUNGE IN DEATH RATE BEGINS TO SLOW

incidence rates

There are currently 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer living in the United States. Since 1989 the death rate has plunged 40%. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) these gains have begun to slow. Spokesmen for the ACS suggest that this decline may be due to saturation of major treatment advances and possibly increased incidence. This latest data includes the 5 year period from 2012-2016.

From 1998-2011 the death rate from breast cancer declined by about 1.9% but according to
SEER data as well as the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries, it has now slowed to 1.3%.

During this same period the incidence of breast cancer has risen by 0.3%, mostly accounted or by early stage and hormone positive (HR) tumors. Again, spokesmen for the ACS attribute this increase in HR positive tumors to the increase in women with excess body weight and decrease in fertility rates.

The rate of DCIS increased more than 11-fold from 1980-2008 but then decreased 2.1% from 2012-2016. This of course was attributed to the rising trend in screening mammography.  Though cancer incidence is slightly lower for African-American women, the death rate, as before remains 40% higher (28.4C vs 20.3 deaths per 100,000 women). Breast cancer was the leading cause of  death for black women (2016-7) in 6 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. It was the leading cause of death among white women in Utah.

Carol DeSantis, MPH, of the ACS noted that optimal breast cancer treatment has largely been available to white women in the US which may explain part of the slowdown in mortality gains. She added that “More can and should be done to ensure that all women have access to quality care to eliminate the disparities and further reduce breast cancer mortality.”

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