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Prognosis of Breast Cancer

In 2013, there were an estimated 3,053,450 women living with female breast cancer in the United States. The earlier female breast cancer is caught, the better chance a person has of surviving five years after being diagnosed. 61.4% are diagnosed at the local stage and the 5-year survival for localized female breast cancer is 98.8%. Overall, female breast cancer survival is good. However, women who are diagnosed at an advanced age may be more likely than younger women to die of the disease. The number of female breast cancer deaths is highest among women aged 55-64. Female breast cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Death rates have been falling on average 1.9% each year over 2004-2013 (16).

Survival after diagnosis and treatment has continually improved over many decades. This is due to increased use of mammography screening, which provides early detection of the disease, as well as improved treatment. Approximately 2/3 of patients are cured of the disease. Five year relapse free survival, all stages considered, is more than 80%.

The prognosis of breast cancer is highly dependent on the stage. Five year relative survival for disease limited to the breast (stage I), is for the years 2008-2012 99.1%, compared to 26.6 %, if distant metastasis is present at the time of diagnosis. It is well known that patients with breast cancer have an excessive death rate for more than 20 years after the diagnosis. One year after diagnosis 96,9 per % of the patients are alive versus 75,7 % at 15 years. The latter figure is due to the adjuvant treatment in the middle nineties. It is too early for an effect of aromatase inhibitors for postmenopausal and trastuzumab for HER2 positives or the use of taxanes to be shown.


Five-year relative survival of patients with breast cancer, in percent, during the diagnosis period 1974–2013.

Source: Cancer Registry of Norway


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