What are the long-term global trends in the incidence of breast cancer?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019
  • Author: Graham A Colditz, MD, DrPH; Chief Editor: Chandandeep Nagi, MD  more...
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Since the 1950s, breast cancer incidence has been increasing in many of the lower-risk countries, as well as in high-risk Western countries. Some of the recent increases in incidence in high-risk populations may be due in part to greater use of mammography, as in the United States. This appears to be the case in Sweden [13] and in England and Wales. [14] However, in Norway, a substantial increase in breast cancer incidence occurred between 1983 and 1993 despite low use of mammographic screening. [15]

Breast cancer incidence rates have nearly doubled in recent decades in traditionally low-risk countries such as Japan [16] and Singapore [4] and in the urban areas of China. Dramatic changes in lifestyle in such regions brought about by growing economies, increasing affluence, and increases in the proportion of women in the industrial workforce have affected the population distribution of established breast cancer risk factors, including age at menarche and fertility and nutritional status, including height and weight. These changes have resulted in a convergence toward the risk-factor profile of Western countries.

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