Breast cancer is quite a dreadful disease. Breast cancer patients make up 30% of all the female cancer patients worldwide. The alarming fact is that these numbers do not include women with skin cancer. In 2010, around 250,000 women became breast cancer patient in America. Every year there is an alarming rise in these numbers.
These numbers are bound to scare anyone and create a negative impression about breast cancer survival rates. However, there is a bright side to this picture. Recent advancements in cancer treatment has made prognosis better for many women.
An understanding of breast cancer survival rates is going to help you tackle this disease in a better and positive way. Yes it is true that many women do not want to know their prognosis; however, you should keep in mind that knowledge about this disease will not hurt you in any way.
When a doctor presents the prognosis of a breast cancer patient, he will usually site the survival rates of breast cancer patients in the last five years. The five year survival rate is computed by looking at the percentage of women who have survived five years after their breast cancer was first diagnosed. The five year survival percentage figure includes breast cancer patients whose deaths were not caused by cancer but some other factors.
This Means Better Survival Chances for You
What this means is that you have to look at the breast cancer survival rates in a positive manner. First, since the survival percentage also includes deaths that have occurred due to other causes, it means that the overall survival rate is much better than what is being projected.
Second, there is a high chance that your cancer treatment at present will include medicines and therapies that were not available five years ago. Every year new cancer medicines and therapies are being introduced, thus improving the survival rate of cancer patients.
Breast cancer survival rates are different for different stages of cancer. Overall women with early stage of breast cancer have a better chance of surviving than those with advanced stage of breast cancer. There are exceptions to this rule which we will discuss later on.
Overall, women who have been diagnosed with stage 0 (in situ) have a 98% five year survival rate and 95 % ten year survival chances. To put it in layman’s language, these women have a 98% chance of surviving five years after their diagnosis and 95% chance of surviving 10 years after their diagnosis.
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In stage 1 in which the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes, the survival rates are pretty good. In this stage, there is an 85% five year survival rate and 75% ten year survival rate. Overall, it has been noticed that women between the 50 and 69 have the highest breast cancer survival chances in stage 1 of breast cancer.
Stage 2 and 3
In stage 2 and 3, the breast cancer has usually spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit. In these stages, there is a 55% five year survival rate and 40% ten year survival rate.
In stage 4, the breast cancer would have metastasized to different part(s) of the body. In this case, the breast cancer survival rate is very low. There is only 10% five year survival rate and 2% ten year survival rate. Women between the age of 40 and 49 have the highest survival chances for stage 2, 3, and 4 of breast cancer.
Exceptions to the Rule
As mentioned above there are exceptions to the breast cancer survival rate rules. For example, women below the age of 40 have a poorer rate of surviving stage 1 and 2 breast cancers than older women. This is, because younger women are usually diagnosed with more dangerous forms of cancer than older women between the age of 60 and 70.
On the other hand, younger women have a better chance of surviving stage 3 and 4 breast cancer than older women. This is, because in older women breast cancer is often diagnosed only when it has reached the advanced stage.
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Factors Influencing Breast Cancer Survival
There are several factors that influence a woman’s chances of surviving breast cancer. Genetics, age, geographical location, income, lifestyle, and more importantly the type and stage of cancer are some of the leading factors that influence survival chances in breast cancer patients. For example, women in poor countries have a poor chance of survival than women in rich countries. This is simply, because they do not have or have poor access to medical facilities
Similarly, educated women have a better chance of survival than an uneducated woman. This is, because an educated woman is more likely to have a better understanding of the disease, to have had the disease diagnosed at an early stage, and have better access to treatment options.
Type of Cancer Affects Survival Rate
A woman who has been detected with a type of breast cancer for which there is no effective treatment is likely to be given a very poor survival chance. This will hold true even if the cancer has been detected at an early stage. Hormone Receptors Affect Survival Rates It has been noted that those women who have breast cancer that is positive to hormone receptors have a better survival rate than women with negative hormone receptor cancer.
Breast cancer that tests positive for progesterone receptors and estrogen receptors means that the cancer spreads by taking in these two hormones. If the supply of these hormones is stopped, the cancer simply dies off. Moreover, it has been noted that such types of cancers respond well to chemotherapy. That is why the survival rate is better for such types of cancers. Another reason why these types of cancers have a better survival rate is, because there are better treatment options available for these cancers than for those cancers which are negative for hormone receptors.
The prognosis that your doctor will give you will depend on your cancer stage, age, type of cancer, and the treatment options available. Since the treatments available today are better than those available five years ago, your prognosis is likely to be good. At present the overall breast cancer survival rate is around 90% for all stages of breast cancer. Therefore, it is a good idea to start your treatment on this positive note.