Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    U.S. Breast Cancer Rates No Longer Declining

    Researchers Say an Earlier Decline Due to Reduced Hormone Use Appears to Have Stopped

    Results Not Unexpected

    "It's not necessarily that surprising," says Stephanie Bernik, MD, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who reviewed the findings for WebMD.

    "Most women stopped taking hormone replacement just for menopausal symptoms," she says. Just 4.2% of white women ages 50-59 took the hormone therapy in 2008, the researchers found.

    ''With that we expected to see a drop in the rate of breast cancer shortly after that time period," she says. "The thought was it would again stabilize, which I think is what is happening."

    Susan Love, MD, president of the Susan Love Research Foundation, agrees there are no surprises."It is likely that the women who were going to stop [hormone therapy] did and that the rates will stabilize at a new lower level as was seen in this study."

    She does wonder, however, what is behind the increase in ER-positive cancers and decrease in ER-negative cancers in women in their 40s.

    Besides considering the rate of breast cancer, Bernik says, it's important to look at breast cancer survival, which has been increasing. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, according to the American Cancer Society.

    On an individual level, women hoping to reduce breast cancer risk can take a number of steps, Bernik says, including getting mammogram screenings regularly, eating well with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, not smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Woman getting mammogram
    Screening Tests for Women
    serious woman
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    what is your cancer risk
    breast cancer survivors