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Breast cancer survival rates by stage

What is a 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer?

A 5-year cancer survival rate represents the percent of patients that survived at least 5 years after being diagnosed. Cancer 5-year survival rates are calculated using population-based cancer registries that collect data on cancer diagnoses and outcomes from various sources, including hospitals, cancer treatment centers, pathology laboratories, and death certificates. Survival rates can be in the form of 5-year, 10-year, or any increment that aligns with the research, but are typically reported as 5 year survival rates. Remember that each patient’s diagnosis and health conditions are different, so don’t be discouraged or make assumptions based on survival rates. These are just general statistics about a population. For some, they might be helpful to know, but for others, they may have the opposite effect. Talk to your doctor to understand how these overall statistics  best pertain to your  personal diagnosis, age, and other factors.  

Stage 0 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (In situ)

Stage 0 breast cancer is also known as carcinoma in situ. In situ breast cancer refers to a form of  non-invasive breast cancer where abnormal cells are found in the ducts or lobules of the breast but have not spread into nearby breast tissue. The term “in situ” is Latin for “in place” or “localized,” indicating that the cancer cells have remained confined to their original location within the breast ducts or lobules.

5-Year survival rates for stage 0 breast cancer are ~99% for women 40-49 years of age and 95% for women 50-59 years of age. 

Stage 1 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Localized)

Stage 1 is early-stage breast cancer, that’s usually very treatable. Stage 1 breast cancer is invasive breast cancer, meaning it’s spread, but stage 1 breast cancer has not spread outside the breast. Stage 1 breast cancer has cancer cells that are invading or starting to break through to normal surrounding breast tissue. It’s still an early-stage breast cancer, though, so if you’ve been diagnosed, effective treatment options should be available.

Stage 1 breast cancer, otherwise known as localized breast cancer, has a 99% 5-year survival rate, according to the American Cancer Society.

Stage 2 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Localized)

Similar to stage 1 breast cancer, stage 2 breast cancer is spreading or growing, but is still localized to the breast and nearby lymph nodes. Again similar to stage 1 breast cancer, stage 2 can be classified into two groups: Stage 2A and stage 2B. The size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes can define which substage the diagnosis falls into. 

The 5-year survival rate for stage 2 breast cancer, including stage 2A and 2B, is ~ 90% – 99%. 

Stage 3 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Regional)

Stage 3 breast cancer is broken down into 3 subcategories: 3A, 3B, and 3C. Stage 3 breast cancer has spread beyond the immediate region. It’s likely invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles. While stage 3 breast cancer has not spread to distant organs, it’s still an advanced type of cancer. However, there are ways to effectively treat stage 3 breast cancer, hence the survival rate. 

The 5-year survival rate for stage 3 breast cancer is ~ 66% – 98%  and varies considerably based on how big the primary tumor is as well as how many lymph nodes are involved

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Distant)

Stage 4 breast cancer is advanced breast cancer that has spread or metastasized to various organs or lymph nodes outside of the breast such as the bones, brain, or liver.  For some, breast cancer is not detected until it’s spread. Additionally, breast cancer can return as metastatic breast cancer. It’s important to show up for annual exams and see your doctor if you notice any unusual changes or symptoms. 

Stage 4 breast cancer has a survival rate of 29%. 

What other factors affect survival rates?

There are many factors that can impact breast cancer survival rates, such as age and overall health, tumor grade, if cancer cells contain hormone receptors, if cancer tests positive for HER2, and how the patient/cancer responds to treatment.

Where do the breast cancer survival rate statistics come from?

Cancer 5-year survival rates are calculated using population-based cancer registries that collect data on cancer diagnoses and outcomes from various sources, including hospitals, cancer treatment centers, pathology laboratories, and death certificates.  Individual research studies may also provide information about endpoints such as survival and progression free survival, but this information is very specific to a given study and a little different from the overall survival rates reported by the American Cancer Society leveraging the the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, which is maintained by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). When it comes to statistics, they are only as good as the information and research behind them. It’s important to understand how the statistics are calculated and how they actually relate to your diagnosis. 

 

Sources:

Stage 0 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (In situ)

https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-stage-0/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10193116/ 

Stage 1 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Localized)

https://www.breastcancer.org/pathology-report/breast-cancer-stages 

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/breast-cancer/understanding-a-breast-cancer-diagnosis/breast-cancer-survival-rates.html 

Stage 2 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Localized)

https://www.komen.org/breast-cancer/facts-statistics/breast-cancer-statistics/survival-rates/ 

https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-stage-2/#:~:text=Stage%202%20means%20the%20breast,spread%20to%20the%20lymph%20nodes

Stage 3 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Regional)

https://www.komen.org/breast-cancer/facts-statistics/breast-cancer-statistics/survival-rates/ 

https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-stage-3/#:~:text=Stage%203%20cancer%20means%20the,number%20of%20effective%20treatment%20options

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survival Rate (Distant)

https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/breast-cancer/types/rare-breast-cancer-types/metastatic-breast-cancer#:~:text=Metastatic%20or%20stage%204%20breast%20cancer%20survival%20rate,-The%20five%2Dyear&text=Regional%20metastatic%20breast%20cancer%3A%20The,survival%20rate%20is%2029%20percent.

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