Most with early-stage breast cancer can expect to become long-term survivors, large study finds

The prognosis for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer has improved substantially since the 1990s, according to recent findings published in the BMJ

Researchers in the U.K. evaluated all early-stage breast cancer diagnoses in England from 1993 to 2015 using a national database, according to the findings published April 26. The study involved more than 512,000 women 

Key findings: 

  • The five-year death risk from early-stage breast cancer has fallen from 14.4 percent in the 1990s to 4.9 percent among people diagnosed between 2010 and 2015.
  • For some women, the estimated risk was as low as 0.2 percent. "For example, the estimated five year breast cancer mortality risk for a woman aged 60 at diagnosis, with a screen detected tumor, size <20 mm, low grade, oestrogen receptor positive, HER2 negative, and node negative would be 0.2 percent," researchers said. 
  • For nearly 63 percent of women diagnosed between 2010 and 2015, the risk of dying within five years was less than 3 percent. For 4.6 percent of women, the risk was higher than 20 percent.

"Our findings can be used to reassure most women treated for early breast cancer that they are likely to become long term survivors," researchers said. "They can also be used to identify the groups of women for whom the risk of breast cancer mortality remains substantial."

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