Breast Cancer Survival Rate

What are survival rates for breast cancer?

Survival rates for different cancer types are calculated by making a note of the percentage of people who continue to remain alive and healthy after completing their treatment for the same stage and type of cancer, over a defined period of time, such as 5 years or 10 years. The available survival rate data cannot serve as an accurate indicator of how long each patient will live with their disease. However, it gives a clearer understanding of the chances of success of a patient’s treatment, depending on the stage and type of diagnosis.

Concerned young female patient discussing about breast cancer

What is a five-year survival rate?

Five year survival rates for cancer are calculated as the percentage of people who live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer (irrespective of whether they received treatment or not). For instance, if the 5-year survival rate for a particular cancer type is 90%, it means that 90 out of 100 people who had that type of cancer, are still alive after 5 years from their initial diagnosis.

What are relative survival rates for breast cancer?

Relative survival rates have been developed as a more accurate method to study and estimate the real effect of cancer on survival. These relative survival rates compare the longevity of women with breast cancer, to women across the general population. So if the five-year relative survival rate for a specific type of breast cancer is 90%, it means that people who have been diagnosed with that type of breast cancer are almost 90% as likely to live for the next five years on an average, as compared to people who don’t have that cancer.

It is important to understand and remember that all five-year relative survival rates are just estimates. The individual prognosis for each patient depends on a number of factors, the least of which is an average statistic.

What are the survival rates for breast cancer patients diagnosed at different stages?

As per data available today, the prognosis of different patients is different, based on the stage at which their cancer was diagnosed. In general, survival rates are seen to be better for women whose breast cancer had been diagnosed early. Locally advanced and stage 2 or stage 3 breast cancer patients, too, are known to complete their treatments successfully. But breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body are harder to treat and have a poorer prognosis. The general trend for breast cancer in the USA indicates that:

  • The five-year relative survival rate for women with stage 0 or stage 1 breast cancer, is 99%
  • The five-year relative survival rate for women with stage 2 breast cancer is about 93%
  • The five-year relative survival rate for women with stage 3 breast cancers is about 72%
  • The five-year relative survival rate for women with metastatic breast cancer (or stage 4 breast cancer) is about 27%

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