Breast Cancer Prognosis

By  , Expert Content
Nov 29, 2011

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Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Any woman with breast cancer would like to know the prognosis or  her chance of cure and recurrence (return) of the cancer. Knowing the  prognosis, the possible outcome and what the future holds is important for the patient and the family as it helps them to handle the disease and live with it better.  

Factors that determine the prognosis (chances of cure and risk for recurrence) include:

  • Type of the cancer.
  • Site or location of the cancer.
  • Stage of cancer (the size of the tumour, extent of involvement of the organ and spread to other parts of the body).
  • Grade of tumour (how abnormal or malign the cancer cells are and how quickly the cells grow and spread).
  • Patient factors such as age, general health and response to treatment.
  • Whether the tumour is hormone receptor-positive or –negative.
  • Certain tumour markers and gene expression.

While discussing the prognosis, the five-year survival rate is considered. Survival rates of a cancer indicate the proportion of people with a certain type and stage of cancer who live for a specific period of time after their diagnosis (factors such as signs or symptoms of cancer, presence or absence of disease, or treatment are not considered ). Fortunately, early detection and advances in treatments have improved survival rates.

Prognosis and stage: Stage of breast cancer is a major factor that influences prognosis. Based on each stage, the five-year survival rate is as follows:



Survival Rate


















A recent data indicates that about 88% of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least 10 years. The survival rate, however, is poorer in women from lower social and economic groups.


Prognosis and Hormone Receptor-Positive or Negative: Some breast cancer cells have receptors or binding sites for the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Prognosis is better if the tumours are hormone receptor-positive cells as these usually grow more slowly than receptor-negative cells and can be treated with hormone drug therapy.

When considering the prognosis, remember that every patient is different; prognosis is only the possible course and the doctor cannot be sure about the outcome.



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