Breast cancer incidence has fluctuated considerably in Canada, with recent reductions in rates among screening-eligible women. However, incidence of early-onset and pre-menopausal breast cancer is understudied. We examined age-specific trends in breast cancer incidence between 1971 and 2015, as well as possible trends by birth cohort.
Incidence data were collected from the National Cancer Incidence Reporting System and the Canadian Cancer Registry, and annual percent changes were estimated using the Joinpoint Regression Program. Five-year birth cohort models were fit using the National Cancer Institute’s web tool.
Breast cancer incidence among women under age 40 has increased since 2000, while incidence under 50 has remained stable. Rates of post-menopausal breast cancer declined sharply and have recently plateaued. More recent birth cohorts are at a non-significantly increased risk of breast cancer compared with the reference, with an increasing upward trend.
Rates of breast cancer may be increasing among younger women, and there is suggestive evidence that more recent birth cohorts are at increased risk of the disease. More research is needed into the risk factors for pre-menopausal breast cancer to support primary prevention efforts in this area.