Breast Cancer Deaths



Why do we measure breast cancer deaths? 

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.(1) Fortunately, survival rates have increased dramatically over the past half-century, in large part due to improved screening and detection of the disease. Improvements in screening and early detection are associated with an approximately 20% reduction in death from breast cancer.(2,3)

There are several risk factors for breast cancer, including older age, being black, young age (< 12 years) at first menstrual period, breast characteristics, delayed childbearing, short length of time breastfeeding, hormone use, alcohol and tobacco use, poor diet, and physical inactivity.(4) In addition, specific genetic mutations, notably in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, are strongly associated with breast cancer.(4) Women aged 45-54 should be screened annually for breast cancer, and women aged 55 or older should be screened every two years, according to 2015 guidelines from the American Cancer Society.(5) Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy.(4)

 How do we measure breast cancer deaths?

This metric includes any woman who has died from breast cancer (men can also have breast cancer, but male breast cancer is rare).

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

Measuring breast cancer deaths helps us assess the local burden of breast cancer and identify the needs of screening and intervention protocols. 

As deaths from breast cancer have declined over the years, measuring the number of breast cancer survivors and those currently undergoing treatment may capture the underlying disease burden more accurately. 


Breast cancer deaths are calculated by the following formula:

Breast Cancer Deaths Formula

This metric was calculated by aggregating estimates from smaller geographies to the congressional district level. For more information, please refer to the Congressional District Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from Multiple Cause of Death Data from National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics. 

Users of these data are asked to acknowledge NCHS and the vital statistics jurisdictions as the data source in published reports and studies for which the files were used. NCHS and the vital statistics jurisdictions should also be cited in reports, articles, and news releases in electronic and print media describing the studies or results of the studies. The following is the recommended citation:

National Center for Health Statistics. [Name of data file(s)] ([year(s]), as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.

Breast cancer deaths are identified by the International Disease Classification codes (version 10) that classifies underlying causes of death. This metric uses ICD-10 codes C500-504, C506, C508-9. 

Years of Collection

For total population, calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2020, 1 year estimate

For all specific demogroups, including racial/ethnic subgroups and gender subgroups, calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2020, 3 year estimate


  1. American Cancer Society. How Common Is Breast Cancer? Accessed January 12, 2018.

  2. Adams SA, Hebert JR, Bolick-Aldrich S, et al. Breast cancer disparities in South Carolina: early detection, special programs, and descriptive epidemiology. Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association (1975). 2006;102(7):231-239.

  3. Myers ER, Moorman P, Gierisch JM, et al. Benefits and Harms of Breast Cancer Screening: A Systematic Review. Jama. 2015;314(15):1615-1634.

  4. Winters S, Martin C, Murphy D, Shokar NK. Breast Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention, and Screening. Progress in molecular biology and translational science. 2017;151:1-32.

  5. Oeffinger KC, Fontham EH, Etzioni R, et al. Breast cancer screening for women at average risk: 2015 guideline update from the american cancer society. JAMA. 2015;314(15):1599-1614.

 Last updated: February 20, 2024