More women get breast cancer than any other cancer

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among women in Ireland.
  • Irish women have a 1 in 11 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age - 75% of breast cancers are diagnosed over the age of 50 and 37% in women over 65.
  • Each year, over 2000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer – 2463 in 2007.
  • Around 650 women die from breast cancer annually
  • The incidence of breast cancer is stabilising and mortality rates are decreasing
  • Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers are hereditary
  • The chances of any one woman having exactly the same breast cancer as another woman is 1 in 200.
  • In the European Union (27 countries) a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes. The estimated figures for 2008 are 332,800 diagnoses and 89,800 deaths.
  • The estimated figures for 2008 for the wider Europe (40 countries) are 420,800 diagnoses and 129,300 deaths
  • In estimated incidence rates for the EU27 for 2006 Ireland comes 2nd and is 5th for mortality rates

For the years 1994 - 2007:

Breast cancer incidence (number of breast cancers diagnosed)

  • increased at a rate of 1.3% per year between 1994 to 1999, at a rate of 5.1% per year in 1999 to 2002 and fell by 2.0% per year between 2002 and 2006
  • based on 2002 to 2006 trend there will be a 53% increase by 2030
  • an average of 1910 cases a year were diagnosed between 1994 and 2005
  • 2463 cases were diagnosed in 2007
  • It is estimated that 660 women will have been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008
  • 16 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007

Note: incidence data for 2006 and 2007 are provisional

Due to lack of standardised cancer registries in many EU countries, accurate, up-to-date statistics on breast cancer incidence and mortality are not available and comparative studies are difficult to carry out. EUROPA DONNA is campaigning for the establishment of registers in each country.


Cancer in Ireland1994-2005: a summary. National Cancer Registry of Ireland. 2007

Cancer projections 2005-2035: a summary. National Cancer Registry of Ireland, 2008

Ferlay J et al. Estimates of the cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2006. Ann Oncol 2007; 18:581-92

Ferlay J, DM Parkin, E.Stelianova-Foucher  Estimates of cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2008. European Jnl of Cancer 2010; 46:765-81

Women and Cancer in Ireland, 1994 - 2001, published by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland and the Women's Health Council in February 2006.,en (accessed 15.04.10)

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Irish Breast Cancer Charter9 things you should know about breast cancer.