What are the survival rates for breast cancer?

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What are the survival rates for breast cancer?


Whether or not someone will overcome breast cancer can never be said with certainty. Every person and every situation is unique. Still, a doctor can give his prognosis based on certain information. The stage of the cancer and the patient’s state of health play a role, among other things.

Also read: Cancer survival rates increased spectacularly

What determines the survival rate?

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Whether or not a person is cured of cancer depends on a few factors.
  • Including the type of cancer. For example, someone with prostate cancer or breast cancer has a better chance of survival than someone with lung cancer or pancreatic cancer.
  • The stage of the cancer also strongly determines the chance of a cure. The smaller the tumor and the earlier it is detected and treated, the better the prognosis. If there are metastases, the chance of a cure decreases.
  • The effect of the treatment, family history, age, lifestyle and general health of the patient also play a role.

The chance of survival in cancer is expressed with the term ‘five-year survival’. This indicates the average percentage of people who are still alive five years after the cancer diagnosis. After this period, the chance that the cancer will return is quite small. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is quite good: five years after diagnosis, about 90 percent of breast cancer patients are still alive.

Read also: Why is breast cancer so difficult to eradicate?

Survival rate by stage

There are four stages of breast cancer. Each stage says something about the severity of the cancer, including how large the tumor is and whether there are any metastases.
  1. Stage 1: The tumor is smaller than 2 cm. There are no metastases to the axillary lymph nodes. About 99 percent of patients at this stage are still alive after five years.
  2. Stage 2: The size of the tumor is between 2 and 5 cm, with or without metastases to the axillary lymph nodes. At stage 2, the survival rate is about 92 percent.
  3. Stage 3: The tumor is larger than 5 cm, with or without metastases in the axillary lymph nodes. Stage 3 also applies to a tumor smaller than 5 cm but protruding through the skin or attached to the chest wall. About 77 percent of patients with stage 3 breast cancer are still alive five years later.
  4. Stage 4: There are metastases in other organs or tissues of the body. At this stage, the survival rate drops to about 32 percent.
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These figures are global averages and therefore do not necessarily accurately represent the individual’s chance of being cured. Always discuss your own situation with your doctor. He too cannot accurately predict the lifespan of a cancer patient, but he can explain more about what the numbers mean in a specific situation.

Read also: Inflammatory breast cancer: a very aggressive form of breast cancer


Last updated: February 2023

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