Metastatic Breast Cancer Statistics

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the US and 1 in 3 of those will become metastatic. African American women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than Caucasian women.

Men get breast cancer too. All people, male and female, are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. Male breast cancer is rare. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and only about 2% will metastasize. 

In 2019, it’s estimated that among U.S. women and men there will be 268,600 new cases of advanced breast cancer and 41,760 breast cancer deaths. Of those deaths, it is estimated that 97-99% of those will be from metastatic breast cancer. Men get breast cancer too. It is estimated that there will be 2670 new male breast cancer diagnosis in 2019 and 500 of those will die due to metastatic breast cancer. 




MBC Diagnosis

  • 5% of persons initially diagnosed with breast cancer are stage IV at the initial diagnosis.
  • 30%[1] of breast cancer survivors eventually metastasize.  According to one leading NCI researcher, that percentage should be 34%, but we do not have any published paper on that detail.
  • Stage 0[2] patients also metastasize. 
  • Patients 30[3] and more years out from their original diagnosis metastasize
  • 73,000 to 86,000[4] is the estimated combined total of persons diagnosed annually with metastatic breast cancer
  • 150,000 to 250,000 were estimated to be living with metastatic breast cancer in 2005.[5]  


Length of Survival

  • The 5-year survival rate stands at only 22%[6].
  • Despite an enormous effort in the areas of prevention[7] and early detection over the past 18 years[8], little has changed.  


Fatality Rate

  • An estimated 41,342 women died of MBC in 2019.[9]
  • An estimated 41,842 men and women will die of MBC in 2019[10]
  • The disease remains fatal for 97-99%[11] of those diagnosed.
  • Average survival continues to be only 18-24[12] months.



Even though often referred to as a chronic disease, the 97-99% death rate for metastatic breast cancer is proof that the disease is far from chronic.



Despite the dire facts surrounding the disease, for each $1 million spent on breast cancer research, only about $20,000 (2%)[13] goes toward metastatic research.  A number of leading metastasis researchers believe the stage IV patient situation could be significantly improved if the research were more fairly funded, but at 2% this will not happen.



[2] American Cancer Society – survival statistic for stage 0s:   

[3] 2nd page 2nd column.

[4] Silent Voices, Pg 8.  Prepared by Musa Mayer, M.S., M.F.A.and Susan E. Grober, Ph.D..  Published by Living Beyond Breast Cancer in 2006.

[5] Ibid.  If we assume para 1.e. is correct, and we take as a given that less than 41,000 die annually, then the number currently living with MBC could be 600,000 or more; however, what we normally see is a number in the 150,000 to 200,000 range.  

[6] National Cancer Data Base statistics.  See chart at:

[7] )  Note the Executive Summary of this NCI report.  In 1997 the NCI defined a national agenda for breast cancer.  It is clear from the descriptions of research being done in the areas of biology, etiology and even early detection, that the primary focus for the NCI is firstly prevention and secondarily early detection.  Only one part of one sentence on the last page of the four-page summary might pertain to metastatic breast cancer, but even that is not clear.

[8] The “15 years” comes from the fact that this priority was established in 1997.  


[10]  (Added because the NCI statistics excludes the males.)

[11] 2nd page 2nd column.


[13]  This formal 2010 study by senior NCI metastasis researchers Patricia Steeg Ph.D. and Jonathan Sleeman Ph.D. estimated 5% to be the estimated average spent in N. America and Europe, using representative cancer organizations.  The U.S. organization came in at 2.3%.   Please note that these figures are for all cancers.  MBC is only one subset.

  • Key word searches pick up phrases such as “goal is prevention of metastasis” or “the trial will use patients with recurrent disease”.  (Non-MBC trial volunteers are difficult to obtain hence MBC patients are commonly used in non-MBC breast cancer trials.)  Most organizations, if asked how much they devote to stage IV, simply do a key word search.  
  • The 2004 Fortune magazine study, while perhaps not qualifying for use here, is the only comprehensive stage IV research study ever undertaken.  It concluded, in 2004, that less than one percent was devoted to stage IV cancer.  This would make the 2% a logical progression
  • The $1 million/$20,000 was just simple math using 2%.