Breast cancer in Canada

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Breast cancer develops in the cells of the breast tissue. When these cells change or no longer behave normally, they may lead to benign tumours (non-cancerous). In some cases, the changes may cause malignant breast tumours (cancerous).

The data Footnote 1,Footnote 2

  • Breast cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Canada
  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
  • About 28,600 women will have been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022
  • In women, breast cancer is the #1 cancer
  • 83% of cases occur in women aged 50+

Risk factors includeFootnote *

  • Aging
  • Family history
  • BRCA gene mutation
  • Reproductive status (e.g. late menopause)
  • Hormone exposures (e.g. estrogen)
  • Alcohol intake
  • Overweight or obesity (after menopause)
  • Physical inactivity

Screening and detection Footnote 2,Footnote 3

  • 82% of female breast cancer cases are diagnosed early in their development, at Stage I and II
  • The probability of surviving breast cancer at least five years after diagnosis is about 89% in Canada

Screening for breast cancer with mammography every 2 to 3 years is recommended for average-risk women aged 50 to 74.

The screening guidelines above are available from the Canadian task Force on Preventive Health Care.


Statistics for lifetime probability, stage and survival exclude Quebec. Stage statistics include individuals aged 18 to 79 years at diagnosis and survival statistics include individuals aged 15 to 99 years at diagnosis. Unless specified, statistics include all stages combined.

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Footnote *

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Footnote 1

Darren R. Brenner, Abbey Poirier, Ryan R. Woods, Larry F. Ellison, Jean-Michel Billette, Alain A. Demers, Shary Xinyu Zhang, Chunhe Yao, Christian Finley, Natalie Fitzgerald, Nathalie Saint-Jacques, Lorraine Shack, Donna Turner and Elizabeth Holmes; for the Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. CMAJ May 02, 2022 194 (17) E601-E607; DOI:

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2021. Available at:

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2018. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2018. Available at:

Return to footnote 3 referrer

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