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Over 600,000 global breast cancer deaths recorded in 2020 while diagnosed cases trump 2 million

By Roselena Ahiable  

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer and the leading cause of death in women globally. It is a disease that results from overgrown cells in the breast. The disease occurs in both men and women; however, women are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer in comparison to men. 

Cancer of the breast can start in different areas of the breast like the lobules, the ducts, and in some instances the tissue in between. There are two main types of breast cancer namely invasive (Ductal Carcinoma in situ and Lobular carcinoma in situ) and non-invasive (Invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, Paget’s disease of the nipple, Inflammatory breast cancer, Phyllodes tumors of the breast, Locally advanced breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer).

The subtypes of breast cancer are hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, HER2 positive breast cancer and triple-negative breast cancer.

Global outlook

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) released on March 26, 2021,  indicates that in the year 2020, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 685,000 deaths were recorded globally. 

At the end of that same year, a total of 7.8 million women had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five (5) years.

Records for incidence of breast cancer in men, on the other hand, is about 0.5-1% according to the WHO.


In Africa, breast cancer is the most diagnosed form of cancer in African women, representing the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In Nigeria, 22.7% of new breast cancer cases were recorded across all sexes and ages in 2020. 

Breast cancer accounted for 18.7% of new cancer cases in both men and women in Ghana for the year 2020. 

Liberia also recorded 528 new cases from both sexes, accounting for 14.9% of new cancer cases. 

In the Gambia and Sierra Leone, 8.1% and 20.9% breast cancer cases were recorded among all new cancer cases in 2020, respectively.

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