Breast cancer prognosis and survival (2023)

The prognosis is your doctor's best estimate of how the cancer will affect you and how you will respond to treatment. Survival is the proportion of people with the disease who are alive at some point after diagnosis. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors.

The doctor will look at certain characteristics of the person and aspects of the cancer, such asinternship and degreeand tumor size. These are the so-calledprognostic factors. The doctor will also look at predictors that affect how the cancer will respond to a particular treatment and how likely the cancer is to return after treatment.

Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together. Both play a role in deciding your prognosis and treatment plan for you. Only a doctor who is familiar with your medical history, the type, stage and other characteristics of your cancer, your chosen treatments and your response to treatment can combine all this information with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis and chances of survival.

Doctors use different prognostic and predictive factors for newly diagnosed and recurrent breast cancers.

Newly diagnosed breast cancer @(Model.HeadingTag)>

Prognostic and predictive factors for breast cancer at first diagnosis are presented below.

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Stage is the main prognostic factor for breast cancer. It describes the amount of cancer in the body, where it is and how far it has spread.

Early-stage breast cancer is less likely to recur, so it has a better prognosis. Breast cancer detected at an advanced stage is associated with a higher risk of recurrence and therefore has a worse prognosis.

Using the stage to estimate the prognosis, doctors will consider whether the cancer has spread tolymph nodesand tumor size.

Lymph node cancer @(Model.HeadingTag)>

Breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes has a higher risk of recurrence and a worse prognosis than breast cancer that has not spread to any lymph nodes.

The number of lymph nodes that contain cancer (so-called positive lymph nodes orpositive nodesdisease) is also important. The more positive lymph nodes, the higher the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

(Video) Understanding Breast Cancer Survival Rates

Node Size @(Model.HeadingTag)>

The size of the tumor will affect the prognosis regardless of how many lymph nodes the cancer has.

Breast tumors that are 5 cm or larger are more likely to return after treatment than smaller tumors. If the breast tumor is smaller than 1 cm and the cancer has not spread to any lymph nodes, the prognosis is usually very good.

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Grade is a description of how cancer cells look compared to normal cells. A low grade means the cancer cells look like normal cells. A high grade means the cancer cells look more abnormal.

Low-grade tumors have a better prognosis because they grow more slowly and are less likely to spread than high-grade tumors.

Hormone receptor status @(Model.HeadingTag)>

Estrogen and progesterone can help some breast cancer cells grow. Some types of breast cancer cells have estrogen receptors (ER) and progesterone receptors (PR) on or within them. These receptors are where hormones bind to cells. Once involved, hormones can affect cell behavior or growth.

Breast cancer cells that have ER and PR need these hormones to grow and divide. Knowing the tumor's hormone receptor status helps doctors predict how wellhormone therapywhether it will work and what other treatments may be effective.

Hormone receptor-positive tumors have ER, PR, or both. They are generally less aggressive than hormone receptor-negative tumors (those lacking ER or PR). This means that they grow more slowly, are of a lower grade and have a lower risk of spreading. As a result, hormone receptor-positive tumors generally have a better short-term prognosis than hormone receptor-negative tumors. However, hormone receptor-positive tumors sometimes recur years after treatment ends.

learn more aboutstudy of hormone receptor status.

(Video) Breast Cancer Survival Rate

Status HER2 @(Model.HeadingTag)>

The HER2 gene controls a protein on the surface of cells that promotes cell growth. HER2-positive breast cancer means that the cancer cells make too many copies or overexpress the HER2 gene.

HER2-positive breast cancer is more aggressive than HER2-negative breast cancer. This means they are more likely to grow, spread and come back after treatment.

HER2-positive cancers are more likely to respond to treatment that includes drugs that target the HER2 protein. But it still has a worse prognosis than HER2-negative breast cancer.

learn more aboutHER2 status tested.

Age at diagnosis @(Model.HeadingTag)>

The risk of breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer is more common in people over the age of 55.

People under the age of 35 are diagnosed with more aggressive, high-grade tumors. Breast cancer is usually advanced at the time of diagnosis. This means that younger women have a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and a worse overall prognosis than younger women.after menopausewomen.

(Video) What is the survival rate for breast cancer | Norton Cancer Institute

Recurrent breast cancer @(Model.HeadingTag)>

Doctors will consider the following predictors of breast cancer returning after treatment.

Length of time before cancer recurrence @(Model.HeadingTag)>

The longer the time until the recurrence of breast cancer, the better the prognosis. If breast cancer returns more than 5 years after diagnosis, the outcome is usually better than if it recurs less than 2 years after diagnosis.

Where cancer returns @(Model.HeadingTag)>

Cancer that returns in the same breast is called autochthonousrepetition. Local recurrence aftermastectomyand radiotherapy has a better prognosis than cancer recurrence on other organs (so-called distant recurrence or distant metastasis). If the cancer comes back after a mastectomy and radiation, doctors usually recommend it.mastectomyto reduce the risk of the cancer returning. But it is important to know that mastectomy does not always prevent cancer from returning. Local recurrence can also occur in lumpectomy or mastectomy scars.

A regional recurrence is when the cancer returns nearbylymph nodes. When breast cancer returns, it usually first travels to the lymph nodes closest to the original tumor. So the cancer may be in the lymph nodes in the armpit (called axillary lymph nodes) or near the collarbone. Regional recurrence has a less favorable prognosis than local recurrence and requires urgent treatment to prevent further spread of the cancer.

A distant recurrence is when the breast cancer has spread (METASTASES) to other parts of the body. This can include the liver, lungs, brain and bones. Recurrent breast cancer in these areas has a much worse prognosis than local or regional recurrence.

(Video) Study finds higher survival rate at every stage of breast cancer

A distant relapse will be treated as a chronic disease. This means that your medical team will suggest treatments to slow the spread of the cancer and manage symptoms, rather than trying to cure the cancer itself.

Expert opinion and references

  • Mr. H, Gray R, Braybrooke J et al. 20-year risk of breast cancer recurrence after discontinuation of hormone therapy at age 5 years.New England Journal of Medicine. 2017: 379 (19): 1836–46 ..

  • National Cancer Institute.Cancer Facts: Breast Cancer in Women. National Institute of Health; 2022:

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) breast cancer statistics. 2022.:

  • American Cancer Society.Survival rates for breast cancer. 2022.:

  • Fabiano V, Mando P, Rizzo M et al. Breast cancer in young women has more aggressive pathological features: a retrospective analysis of an Argentine national database.JCO Global Oncology. 2020: 6:639–646..

  • [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] Jagsir R, King TA, Lehman C, Morrow M, Harris JR, Burstein HJ. Malignant tumor dojke. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, ur.DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th edition Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2019: 79: 1269-1317.

Survival statistics for breast cancer

Survival statistics for breast cancer are very general estimates. Survival is different for each stage and stage of breast cancer.

Learn more about breast cancer survival statistics

(Video) Surviving Stage 3 Breast Cancer – Jana’s story


What is the prognosis and survival for breast cancer? ›

The 5-year relative survival rate for women in the United States with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 91%. The 10-year relative survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 85%. The survival rates for breast cancer vary based on several factors.

What are the survival stats for breast cancer? ›

The overall 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is 90%. This means 90 out of 100 women are alive 5 years after they've been diagnosed with breast cancer. The 10-year breast cancer relative survival rate is 84% (84 out of 100 women are alive after 10 years).

What is the best prognosis for breast cancer? ›

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is stage 0 (or non-invasive) breast cancer and has the best prognosis. There are 4 main stages of invasive breast cancer, stages I-IV (1-4). The lower the breast cancer stage, the better the prognosis tends to be.

What are the four most important prognostic factors for breast cancer? ›

Traditional prognostic factors, ie, those that predict the risk of recurrence or death from breast cancer, include number of positive axillary nodes, tumor size, tumor grade (histologic or nuclear), lymphatic and vascular invasion, and the estrogen-receptor (ER) and progesterone-receptor (PR) positivity.

Which breast cancer has worse prognosis? ›

Official answer. Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV, stage 4, secondary breast cancer, or advanced breast cancer) has the poorest prognosis. This is when cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to create tumors in other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs, liver, or brain.

What is the prognosis for Stage 1 breast cancer? ›

Similar to stage 0, breast cancer at this stage is very treatable and survivable. When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage (there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%.

What is considered high lifetime risk of breast cancer? ›

A woman is considered to have a high risk if she has at least a 1.67% chance of developing breast cancer in the next five years, or a lifetime risk of at least 20%.

Which cancer has the lowest survival rate? ›

Lung and bronchial cancer causes more deaths in the U.S. than any other type of cancer in both men and women. Although survival rates have increased over the years due to improved treatments, the outlook is still bleak. The five-year survival rate is only 22%.

Does breast cancer have poor prognosis? ›

A 90% five-year survival rate means that 90 out of 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to be alive five years after their diagnosis.

What type of breast cancer is almost always curable? ›

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the earliest form of ductal carcinoma. "In situ" means it's only in the milk ducts, and isn't likely to spread to other parts of your body. About 1 in 5 people who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer have DCIS. This type is very curable.

How fast does breast cancer spread? ›

Studies show that even though breast cancer happens more often now than it did in the past, it doesn't grow any faster than it did decades ago. On average, breast cancers double in size every 180 days, or about every 6 months.

What is the hardest breast cancer to cure? ›

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a rare type of breast cancer. It is harder to treat and much more aggressive. Because it is aggressive and rare, fewer treatment options are available. It also tends to have a higher rate of recurrence.

What percentage of breast cancer survivors have a recurrence? ›

According to the Susan G. Komen® organization, women with early breast cancer most often develop local recurrence within the first five years after treatment. On average, 7 percent to 11 percent of women with early breast cancer experience a local recurrence during this time.

What type breast cancer has the highest recurrence rate? ›

Aggressive, hard-to-treat breast cancers, such as inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), are the types most likely to recur.

What type of breast cancer is most likely to metastasize? ›

While all types of breast cancer have the potential to metastasize, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive and triple-negative cancers are more aggressive and more likely to metastasize faster than the other types.

How urgent is breast cancer surgery? ›

Generally speaking, surgery for breast cancer is ideally done from 31 to 90 days after diagnosis. This allows time for thorough diagnostic testing and decision making without affecting outlook. Surgery is a very common treatment for breast cancer.

Is Stage 3 breast cancer the worst? ›

Because stage 3 breast cancer has spread outside the breast, it can be harder to treat than earlier stage breast cancer, though that depends on a few factors. With aggressive treatment, stage 3 breast cancer is curable; however, the risk that the cancer will grow back after treatment is high.

Is HER2 positive or negative better? ›

It's healthy in normal amounts, but too much may be a sign of a certain type of breast cancer. Most people with breast cancer have a normal amount of this protein, which means you are HER2-negative. But about 1 in 5 cases are HER2-positive, which means your levels are unusually high.

Do you need chemo for stage 1 breast cancer? ›

Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is not usually offered for stage 1 breast tumours. It may be offered after surgery (called adjuvant therapy) for these tumours if there is a high risk that the cancer will come back (recur).

Is Stage 2 breast cancer curable? ›

Stage II breast cancers are curable with current multi-modality treatment consisting of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy. Effective treatment of stage II breast cancer requires both local and systemic therapy.

What stage of breast cancer requires a mastectomy? ›

Mastectomy for breast cancer treatment

A mastectomy may be a treatment option for many types of breast cancer, including: Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or noninvasive breast cancer. Stages I and II (early-stage) breast cancer. Stage III (locally advanced) breast cancer — after chemotherapy.

Can breast cancer survivors live 30 years? ›

Many people survive for years or even decades after getting a breast cancer diagnosis and receiving treatment. Typically, the earlier a doctor diagnoses and treats the condition, the better a person's outlook. Regular follow-up appointments are important for monitoring a person's health after breast cancer treatment.

Why is left breast cancer more common? ›

Potential reasons behind this statistic include larger left breast size, more frequent self-screening of left breast, and right-side breastfeeding preferences.

Is it true that 1 in 2 will get cancer? ›

But getting cancer at a young age is rare. 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime - one of the main reasons for this being that people are living longer. Half of all cancers are in people over the age of 70.

Can breast cancer be cured completely? ›

It is possible for breast cancer to go into complete remission. The outlook tends to be better if a person receives treatment in the early stages of the disease. Advanced breast cancer may not be curable. However, treatment can improve symptoms and prolong a person's life.

What cancer has a 95% survival rate? ›

A favorable prognosis means a good chance of treatment success. For example, the overall 5-year relative survival rate for testicular cancer is 95%. This means that most men diagnosed with the disease have a favorable prognosis. Prognosis depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis.

What are the hardest cancers to get rid of? ›

Some of the most difficult cancers to treat are those that develop in the:
  • liver.
  • pancreas.
  • ovaries.
  • brain (glioblastomas)
  • cells that give your skin color (melanomas)

What are the odds of beating breast cancer? ›

Survival for all stages of breast cancer

Around 85 out of every 100 women (around 85%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. Around 75 out of every 100 women (around 75%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis.

Does anyone ever beat breast cancer? ›

The 5-year relative survival rate for women with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. is 30%. The 5-year survival rate for men with metastatic breast cancer is 19%. The survival rates for metastatic breast cancer vary based on several factors.

What is the average age for breast cancer? ›

Getting older.

The risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.

What is considered early breast cancer? ›

Breast cancer that has not spread beyond the breast or the axillary lymph nodes. This includes ductal carcinoma in situ and stage I, stage IIA, stage IIB, and stage IIIA breast cancers.

Which stage of breast cancer is not curable? ›

While treatable, metastatic breast cancer (MBC) cannot be cured. The five-year survival rate for stage 4 breast cancer is 22 percent; median survival is three years.

Where is the first place breast cancer spreads? ›

The sentinel lymph node

When cancer spreads, the lymph node located closest to the original tumor (the sentinel node) is usually affected first. In breast cancer cases, the sentinel lymph node is often located in the underarm area.

Does breast cancer spread faster after biopsy? ›

Some patients express concerns about whether a breast needle biopsy might cause cancer to spread. But there's no evidence of a negative long-term effect from a breast needle biopsy.

Is a 2 cm breast tumor big? ›

Primary breast tumors vary in shape and size. The smallest lesion that can be felt by hand is typically 1.5 to 2 centimeters (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch) in diameter. Sometimes tumors that are 5 centimeters (about 2 inches) — or even larger — can be found in the breast.

What is the easiest breast cancer to cure? ›


“Ductal” refers to the milk ducts in the breast, and “in situ” means “in its original place.” DCIS is a stage 0 cancer, which is the earliest and generally the most treatable form of breast cancer.

What is the 5 year pill for breast cancer? ›

Letrozole helps stop your breast cancer coming back. By taking this medicine for 5 years (or sometimes up to 10 years), you have a better chance of being alive 15 years after your breast cancer was first diagnosed. Your specialist will be able to explain the benefits and risks of taking letrozole.

What is the least serious breast cancer? ›

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), is non-invasive breast cancer that has not spread outside the milk ducts where it started. DCIS isn't life threatening, but is considered a precursor to invasive breast cancer and increases the risk of developing an invasive breast cancer later in life.

Will I ever be the same after breast cancer? ›

Most people report a good quality of life after they complete breast cancer treatment [8-10]. However, you may have some late effects of treatment. You may have some long-term side effects or new side effects may occur months or even years after treatment ends.

Where is breast cancer most likely to come back? ›

Local recurrence

If you've undergone a lumpectomy, the cancer could recur in the remaining breast tissue. If you've undergone a mastectomy, the cancer could recur in the tissue that lines the chest wall or in the skin.

How do you prevent estrogen positive breast cancer recurrence? ›

If you were diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive, early-stage breast cancer, it's likely that your doctor will recommend you take some type of hormonal therapy medicine — either tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor depending on your menopausal status — for five to 10 years after surgery.

Which breast cancer spreads faster? ›

Inflammatory breast cancer, which may be detected in the ducts or lobules, tends to spread faster than other types of breast cancer. This quick-growing, aggressive disease makes up about 1 to 5 percent of breast cancers in the United States, according to the NCI.

How do you stop recurrence of breast cancer? ›

Healthy lifestyle choices

Controlling your weight, being physically active, and eating well may lower your risk of breast cancer returning, as well as help protect you from other health problems. While we have not proven diet changes and exercising more prevent breast cancer recurrence, they may reduce the risk.

Which of the following breast cancer has the best prognosis? ›

The prognosis of early breast cancer is quietly good. Stage 0 and stage I both have a 100% 5-year survival rate. The 5-year survival rate of stage II and stage III breast cancer is about 93% and 72%, respectively.

When breast cancer spreads to lymph nodes What is the survival rate? ›

If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 86%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 30%.

What is the most common site of breast metastasis? ›

The most common parts of the body where breast cancer tends to spread (metastasize) are the bones, lungs, brain, and liver.

What are early signs of metastatic breast cancer? ›

Metastatic breast cancer symptoms
  • If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
  • If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.

Can you live 20 years with breast cancer? ›

Many people with localized or regional breast cancer survive for 20 years or longer after receiving a diagnosis and treatment. It is rare for someone with distant breast cancer to live for 20 years. However, scientists are continuing to improve treatments for distant breast cancer.

What is the prognosis for Stage 2 breast cancer? ›

Overall, the prognosis for stage 2 breast cancer is generally good. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate is: 99 percent for localized breast cancer (has not spread outside the breast) 86 percent for regional breast cancer (spread to nearby lymph nodes)

How long is the average lifespan of a person with breast cancer? ›

Around 95 out of every 100 women (around 95%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis. Around 85 out of every 100 women (around 85%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. Around 75 out of every 100 women (around 75%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis.

Do you ever get back to normal after breast cancer? ›

Most people report a good quality of life after they complete breast cancer treatment [8-10]. However, you may have some late effects of treatment. You may have some long-term side effects or new side effects may occur months or even years after treatment ends.

Do most breast cancers come back? ›

Most breast cancers don't come back after treatment, but it's very common to worry about breast cancer returning. If breast cancer does come back, it's known as recurrence. It's important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for.

What is the easiest breast cancer to treat? ›


“Ductal” refers to the milk ducts in the breast, and “in situ” means “in its original place.” DCIS is a stage 0 cancer, which is the earliest and generally the most treatable form of breast cancer.

Is Stage 3 breast cancer curable? ›

With aggressive treatment, stage 3 breast cancer is curable; however, the risk that the cancer will grow back after treatment is high.

How serious is her 2 positive breast cancer? ›

A positive test for HER2 means breast cancer may grow quickly and possibly come back (recur). This risk is significantly lowered with appropriate treatment. At the Abramson Cancer Center, we treat HER2-positive breast cancer with medications that work to slow or stop tumor growth.


1. Survival Advantage Observed in HER2+Breast Cancer With Brain Metastasis
(Targeted Oncology)
2. What is the Treatment for Metastatic Breast Cancer?
(Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center)
3. Will I Survive Breast Cancer? Learn About Your Risk
(Breast Cancer School for Patients)
4. Survival Rates for Breast Cancer
5. Will I Survive Breast Cancer? Effects of Stage and Biology on Prognosis
(Yerbba – Breast Cancer)
6. Breast Cancer Survival Rates Explained
(Breast Cancer Answers®)


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