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1 October 2021

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021

BCAM 2021

During October, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) will mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021 with a series of videos, tweets, and infographics focusing on the Agency’s work to understand and tackle the global burden of breast cancer.
Read more About breast cancer

About Breast cancer

Breast cancer became the most commonly diagnosed cancer type in the world in 2020. IARC estimates that there were more than 2.26 million new cases of breast cancer and almost 685 000 deaths from breast cancer worldwide in 2020. Breast cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in women and the fifth most common cause of cancer death overall.

The global burden of breast cancer mortality is marked by inequality. In high-income countries, where the prognosis for patients with breast cancer is generally quite favourable, there are disparities in survival between different socioeconomic groups. In low- and middle-income countries, barriers to diagnosis and treatment mean that women are much less likely to survive the disease. In 2020, half a million women in low- and middle-income countries died of breast cancer; almost three quarters of global deaths from the disease occurred in these countries.

This situation is projected to get worse. IARC estimates that by 2040 the incidence of breast cancer will increase by more than one third, to more than 3 million new cases per year, and breast cancer mortality will increase by more than one half, to more than 1 million deaths per year. These increases will be driven mostly by demographic factors as populations age and lifestyle factors change, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

IARC is working to limit the increases in breast cancer incidence and mortality and is part of the World Health Organization’s Global Breast Cancer Initiative, which aims to improve access to breast cancer early diagnosis and prompt comprehensive breast cancer management.

    Scientists in various IARC Research Branches are studying:
  • the causes of breast cancer, such as environmental and lifestyle factors;
  • the barriers that prevent women from being diagnosed and treated, such as cultural taboos, geographical location, or socioeconomic issues; and
  • the most effective methods of preventing breast cancer at the population level, by evaluating screening methods and delivery techniques that meet the needs of women and public health stakeholders.



Dr Manon Cairat Postdoctoral Scientist – Nutrition and Metabolism
les glucocorticoïdes et le risque de cancer du sein en fonction de type et de stade

Dr Eileen Morgan Postdoctoral Scientist – Cancer Surveillance
breast cancer, risk factors, and inequality

Ms Harriet Rumgay Doctoral Student – Cancer Surveillance
How alcohol consumption can cause cancer

Dr Partha Basu Deputy Branch Head – Early Detection Prevention and Infections
how breast cancer care was improved in Morocco

Dr Zdenko Herceg Branch Head – Epigenomics and Mechanisms
Predicting breast cancer – How IARC scientists read the map hidden in an individual’s blood

Social media tiles

Social Media tiles

Related IARC studies

Recent IARC studies related to breast cancer

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