Breast Cancer Prognosis

Prognosis for Breast Cancer: Impact of Stage

The breast cancer stage plays a role in the breast cancer prognosis. Based on historical data:
  • 61 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed while the cancer is still confined to the primary site (localized stage).
  • 31 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes or directly beyond the primary site.
  • 6 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed after the cancer has already metastasized (distant stage).
  • 2 percent of breast cancer cases had staging information that was unknown.
The corresponding 5-year relative survival rates were:
  • 98.1 percent for localized
  • 83.1 percent for regional
  • 26.0 percent for distant
  • 54.1 percent for unstaged.

Final Thoughts

Cancer patients and their loved ones face many unknowns. While some people find that it is easier to cope when they know the statistics, other people find statistical information confusing and frightening, and they think it is too impersonal to be of use to them. The doctor who is most familiar with a patient's situation is in the best position to discuss the prognosis for breast cancer and to explain what the statistics of breast cancer may mean for that person.
At the same time, it is important to understand that even the doctor cannot know exactly what to expect. In fact, a person's prognosis may change if the cancer progresses, or if treatment is successful. Seeking information about the  prognosis is a personal decision, and it is up to each patient to decide how much information he or she wants to know and how to deal with it.
(Click Breast Cancer Statistics for more statistics on breast cancer.)
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