Breast cancer survival rates help you understand how long other people with your type of cancer have survived after diagnosis. These breast cancer survival rates do not help you know how long you will live after your diagnosis. But they do give you a better idea of your type of treatment’s success rates.
What are the five year survival rates?
Researchers usually provide cancer survival rates in five year increments. But many people live much longer than just five years. A five year survival rate shows what percentage of people lived at least five years from their cancer diagnosis. As an example, a five year survival rate of 95 percent means 95 of every 100 people diagnosed with that type of breast cancer are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
What are relative survival rates?
Relative survival rates are more accurate than five year survival rates. That is because these rates compare women with breast cancer to women in the general population who do not have breast cancer. If a five year relative survival rate for a cancer is 95 percent, this means that people with that cancer are about 95 percent as likely as other people without that cancer to live for five years after diagnosis.
Breast Cancer Survival Rates: Only Part of the Story
Survival rates look at large numbers of people and their outcomes, not people with your precise circumstances. So these numbers do not predict what will happen in your case. Remember these limitations for breast cancer survival rates:
- Treatments improve with each passing year. So people diagnosed five years ago likely never have the same outlook as someone diagnosed today. Survival rates shown in five year increments are not always applicable to today’s cancer patients.
- Researchers do not include substages of breast cancer, such as stage IA or IB in breast cancer survival statistics. Survival rates for stage I are slightly lower than for IA and slightly higher than for IB.
- Breast cancer survival rates represent survival based on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. There is no representation for cancers returning or spreading.
- Your age, health, hormone receptors on cancer cells, received treatment and cancer responsiveness to treatment affect your personal breast cancer outlook.
- Your doctor is your best resource for how breast cancer survival rates apply to you and your particular situation.
Today’s Breast Cancer Survival Rates
Your breast cancer outlook depends partly on the stage of your cancer. Early stage cancers provide the best outlook for long term survival. But you must remember that your outlook depends on many individual factors.
According to the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database of people diagnosed with breast cancer from 2007 to 2013, below are five year relative breast cancer survival rates:
- Close to 100 percent survival exists for women with stage 0 or stage I breast cancer
- About 93 percent of women with stage II breast cancer survive five years
- About 72 percent of women with stage III breast cancer survive five years
- About 22 percent of women with stage IV metastatic breast cancer survive five years, with this cancer being difficult to treat and having a poorer outlook