Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Germany with high public health impact. In the last decade rapid changes in risk factor patterns, early breast cancer detection, and therapy have taken place. Their effects on breast cancer epidemiology in Germany are described. Materials and Methods: A register-based survey using recent incidence data from German cancer registries was performed. Mortality data were provided by the Central Federal Statistical Office. We calculated age-standardized rates and 5- and 10-year trends. Results: Breast cancer incidence increased until the year 2002, thereafter a discreet decline occurred until 2005 (– 6.8%). In the age group 50–59 years this reduction was most pronounced (– 12%). Mortality declined from 1996/7 to 2004/5 by 19%, with the strongest effect in women younger than 55 years (approximately 30%). Regional patterns of breast cancer incidence and mortality revealed differences within Germany of greater than 30%. Conclusion: Declining hormone replacement therapy prescription is the most likely factor to explain the drop in breast cancer incidence. The reduction in mortality might be caused by better therapy and enhanced early detection during the last decade. Differences in breast cancer incidence and mortality between Eastern and Western Germany give reason for further research and discussion.

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