Breast Cancer Facts

Wisconsin Statistics


  • 4730 women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer annually
  • 1048 additional women are diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)*
  • Wisconsin incidence rates are about 2 points higher than the national average, however 15 WI counties have rates significantly higher than the national average


  • 710 women die from breast cancer annually
  • Wisconsin mortality rates are about 1.2 point lower than the national average; however, the disparity in mortality rates between black and white women in Wisconsin are among our nation’s highest and it is trending higher

US Statistics


  • 246,660 women and 2,600 men are estimated to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2016
  • 54,000 additional women are estimated to be diagnosed with DCIS


  • 40,890 women and men are estimated to die from breast cancer in 2016

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

Rates have increased dramatically due to increased screening since 1980. DCIS is a “pre-cancer” confined to the ducts of the breast. We do not know which DCIS will become invasive, but alone, confined to the breast, it is harmless. Since we do not know yet which DCIS will become invasive, many women are treated with interventions (surgery/radiation) that they may not need and which may cause long term morbidities.

More Facts

  • While we are finding slightly fewer regional breast cancers, and many more localized breast cancers, the rate of truly lethal metastatic breast cancer at initial diagnosis has not changed since 1975. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer.
  • Between 2000-2007, mortality rates decreased at approximately 1.9% per year. The slight decrease is attributed to such factors as reduced use of hormone replacement therapy, behavioral changes, earlier detection and improved treatments.
  • The much advertised “5 year survival rate” is not a measure of progress. Survival rates are skewed by screening: the more you screen, the more you find. These women are all counted as being alive at 5 years, including women who are in treatment at 5 years and the sizable percentage of women whose cancer will recur after 5 years. Evidence suggests that many women would not have died within the first 5 year timeframe, even if they had not been screened.
  • 20-30% of women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer will have a recurrence of disease.
  • It is estimated that no more than 55% of breast cancer is explained by risk factors so far identified. The majority appear to be a combination of various physical, environmental and genetic factors.
  • An estimated 30% of all breast cancers (both invasive and DCIS) are considered to be overdiagnosed and over treated. (The more we screen, the more we find, the more we treat – with a likelihood that many breast cancer might not have needed treatment.)

Bottom Line

Screening for breast cancer is necessary and the best tool we’ve got right now; however it does not PREVENT breast cancer, it only finds it, and finding it does not guarantee that a life has been saved.

WBCC believes we need to know more about which breast cancers are truly lethal, how to prevent localized cancer from becoming metastatic, and how to prevent the disease in the first place.

The National Breast Cancer Coalition is leading the Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 campaign to achieve these goals.

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*Primary sources for this document are the NCI State Cancer Profiles, The Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program’s “Breast Cancer Landscape” document, the American Cancer Society and