Statistics at a Glance
There are four main female breast cancer subtypes, including the following in order of prevalence:
- HR+/HER2- ("Luminal A")
- HR-/HER2- ("Triple Negative")
- HR+/HER2+ ("Luminal B")
- HR-/HER2+ ("HER2-enriched")
HR stands for hormone receptor. HR+ means that tumor cells have receptors for the hormones estrogen or progesterone, which can promote the growth of HR+ tumors. HER2 stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor. HER2+ means that tumor cells make high levels of a protein called HER2/neu, which has been shown to be associated with certain aggressive types of breast cancer.
At a Glance
When all subtypes are combined, female breast cancer is fairly common. In 2019, it is estimated that there were 268,600 new cases of female breast cancer.
The breast cancer subtype HR+/HER2- is the most common subtype with an age-adjusted rate of 85.8 new cases per 100,000 women, based on 2012-2016 cases.
This is a rate more than six times higher than the triple-negative breast cancer rate of 13.0 and the HR+/HER2+ breast cancer rate of 12.9, and over 15 times higher than HR-/HER2+ breast cancer rate of 5.4.
|Subtype||Percent of Cases|
SEER 21 2012-2016
SEER 18 2010-2015
The best survival pattern was observed among women with the HR+/HER2- subtype, followed by the HR+/HER2+ and HR-/HER2+ subtypes. The HR-/HER2- subtype, also known as the triple-negative subtype, had the worst survival.
Survival by Stage
SEER 18 2010-2015
While breast cancer subtype affects survival, stage at diagnosis may be the most powerful factor in determining survival outcome. For example, among those with localized disease, the survival rate after 5 years was greater than 91 percent regardless of subtype. Additionally, survival for localized triple-negative female breast cancer was 91.0 percent, but it dropped to 11.2 percent for distant disease.
Number of New Cases
Who Gets This Cancer?
Female breast cancer overall is most common in middle-aged and older women. Although rare, men can develop breast cancer as well. The number of new cases of female breast cancer, with all subtypes combined, was 127.5 per 100,000 women per year based on 2012-2016 cases.
The distribution of breast cancer subtypes among the female population varies by age, race, ethnicity, stage, and more. Compared with women with HR+/HER2− subtype (the most common subtype), those diagnosed with the other three subtypes were somewhat more likely to be younger, belong to minority groups, and be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage. (Howlader 2018)
|Race / Ethnicity||HR+/HER2- Rate||HR-/HER2- Rate||HR+/HER2+ Rate||HR-/HER2+ Rate||Unknown Rate|
|American Indian / Alaska Native||51.7||7.5||8.3||4.8||7.2|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||66.3||8.4||11.6||5.9||7.9|
SEER 21 2012-2016, a American Indian / Alaska Native, b Asian or Pacific Islander
White women have the highest rate of new cases of HR+/HER2− breast cancer. Black women have the highest rate of new cases of HR−/HER2− breast cancer, also known as the triple-negative subtype.
More About This Cancer
Cancer and the Female Breast
Figure: The female breast along with lymph nodes and vessels. An inset shows a close-up view of the breast with the following parts labeled: lobules, lobe, ducts, nipple, areola, and fat.
Inside a woman's breast are 15 to 20 sections, or lobes. Each lobe is made of many smaller sections called lobules. Fibrous tissue and fat fill the spaces between the lobules and ducts (thin tubes that connect the lobes and nipples). Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow out of control and form a growth or tumor. Tumors may be cancerous (malignant) or not cancerous (benign).
Here are some resources for learning more about female breast cancer.
- About risk factors for breast cancer
- About breast cancer screening
- About symptoms and diagnosis of breast cancer
- About treatment options for breast cancer
- About clinical trials
- About breast cancer prevention
- About cancer prevention
All statistics in this report are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Many can be found within:
Howlader N, Altekruse SF, Li CI, Chen VW, Clarke CA, Ries LA, Cronin KA. US incidence of breast cancer subtypes defined by joint hormone receptor and HER2 status. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Apr 28;106(5). pii: dju055. doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju055.
Howlader N, Cronin KA, Kurian AW, Andridge R. Differences in Breast Cancer Survival by Molecular Subtypes in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2018 Jun;27(6):619-626. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0627. Epub 2018 Mar 28.
Noone AM, Cronin KA, Altekruse SF, Howlader N, Lewis DR, Petkov VI, Penberthy L. Cancer Incidence and Survival Trends by Subtype Using Data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program, 1992-2013. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Apr;26(4):632-641. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0520. Epub 2016 Dec 12.
Kohler BA, Sherman RL, Howlader N, Jemal A, Ryerson AB, Henry KA, Boscoe FP, Cronin KA, Lake A, Noone AM, Henley SJ, Eheman CR, Anderson RN, Penberthy L. Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011, Featuring Incidence of Breast Cancer Subtypes by Race/Ethnicity, Poverty, and State. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Mar 30;107(6):djv048. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv048. Print 2015 Jun.
All material in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.
SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer Subtypes. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/breast-subtypes.html
These stat facts focus on population statistics that are based on the U.S. population. Because these statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. To see tailored statistics, browse the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. To see statistics for a specific state, go to the State Cancer Profiles.
The statistics presented in these stat facts are based on the most recent data available, most of which can be found in the SEER Cancer Statistics Review. In some cases, different year spans may be used. Estimates for the current year are based on past data.
Cancer is a complex topic. There is a wide range of information available. These stat facts do not address causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, or decision making, although links are provided to information in many of these areas.