Breast Cancer - Metastatic: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?

In 2023, an estimated 300,590 people (297,790 women and 2,800 men) in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, excluding skin cancer. Worldwide, female breast cancer has now surpassed lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer. An estimated 2,261,419 women worldwide were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020.

In the United States, 6% of women have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States. It is estimated that 43,700 people (43,170 women and 530 men) deaths from this disease will occur in the United States in 2023. Worldwide, female breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of death. In 2020, an estimated 684,996 women across the world died from breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer causes the vast majority of deaths from the disease.

What is the survival rate for metastatic breast cancer?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from metastatic breast cancer. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with metastatic breast cancer are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with metastatic breast cancer are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for women with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. is 30%. The 5-year survival rate for men with metastatic breast cancer is 19%.

The survival rates for metastatic breast cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

It is important to remember that breast cancer is treatable at any stage. Treatments for metastatic breast cancer are continually improving and have been proven to help people with metastatic breast cancer live longer with a better quality of life.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for metastatic breast cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how metastatic breast cancer is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2023; the ACS website; the International Agency for Research on Cancer website; and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It describes the factors that may increase the chance of developing metastatic breast cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.