According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the most common cancer in women worldwide, accounting for 25.2% of all incident cases of female cancers.

There has been a gradual decline in the death rate from breast cancer in Europe over the past 15 years.

Breast cancer UK incidence

The death rate from breast cancer in the UK is considered to be slightly higher than in other European countries such as Germany and France.

However, according to a March 2019 study by Malvezzi and colleagues published in Annals of Oncology, the UK death rate from breast cancer has declined dramatically in recent years. This decline in the UK has been faster than in other major European countries, which is an encouraging finding for women with breast cancer in the UK.

According to this study, the age-standardised breast cancer death rate in the UK was 18.39 per 100,000 population in 2005–2009, which dropped to 16.19 per 100,000 population in 2010–2014 and is estimated to be 13.33 per 100,000 population in 2019.

Breast cancer UK comparisons

The breast cancer death rate in the UK in 2019 is comparable to Germany and France, at 14.09 and 13.52 per 100,000, respectively. This suggests that the UK is catching up with other European countries that had much lower breast cancer death rates in previous years. This is a positive development and suggests that the UK has made progress in breast cancer treatment and management.

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This decline in the breast cancer death rate is a positive development even if the number of breast cancer cases continues to increase in the near future. The UK’s ageing and increasing population suggest that the overall number of people with breast cancer will continue to increase even as the breast cancer death rate decreases.

GlobalData epidemiologists forecast an increase in breast cancer cases from 54,000 in 2018 to 58,000 in 2025, at an annual growth rate of 0.90%.

There are approximately 12,000 deaths due to breast cancer per year in the UK, and even with this decline in the death rate, breast cancer will still be the most common form of cancer death among women in the UK.

As death from breast cancer in women is still high, effective strategies are needed to ensure this decline in death rate continues.