Survival estimates for those diagnosed with breast cancer have nearly doubled since 1971, with the majority of women diagnosed surviving for five years or more, research has found.
New figures released from the Office National Statistics revealed for women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2010 and followed up to 2011, the five-year survival estimate was around 84%.
In comparison, among women diagnosed between 1971 and 1975 and followed up to 1995, only around half (54%) survived for five years or more.
The improvement in breast cancer survival is associated with earlier detection and advances in treatment. Breast cancer survival was third highest after melanoma of the skin and Hodgkin lymphoma, for women diagnosed with cancer between 2006 and 2010 and followed up to 2011.
For most cancers, survival rates are generally higher among younger patients. For breast cancer, the reverse is true: Survival is lower for women aged 15-39 (84%) than those aged 40-69 (89-90%.)
Meanwhile, breast cancer remain as the most common cancer among women in England, accounting for 31% of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer in females in 2011, the research said.
In 2011, there were around 41,500 newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer in females. The incidence rate has increased from 66 new cases per 100,000 women in 1971, to 125 new cases per 100,000 women in 2011.
This amounts to an increase of 89% over this time period. As with many cancers, much of the rise in incidence is due to people living longer.
Age is the biggest risk factor for breast cancer, after gender, with a peak in registrations among those aged 60-64, representing 13% of all new breast cancer cases in 2011.
However, while incidence rates have risen, the resarch found mortality rates have fallen among women diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2011, around 9,700 women died of breast cancer in England. Although incidence rates have steadily increased over the last 40 years, there has been a marked decrease in mortality rates.
The mortality rate has decreased from 39 deaths per 100,000 women in 1971, to 24 deaths per 100,000 women in 2011. This represents a 38% decrease in mortality over this time period, the ONS concluded.
COVER receives top plaudit from industry body
‘Overall the industry has improved’
As part of serious illness cover
With child cover enhancements