Survival statistics for breast cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Statistics and outlook for breast cancer

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Doctors call this prognosis. With breast cancer, the likely outcome depends on the type of breast cancer and how early or advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage). How abnormal the cells look under the microscope (the grade) can also be important and whether the cancer cells have receptors for particular cancer drugs.

We have included quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of breast cancer. The statistics are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wants to read this type of information. If you don't want to read this information you can skip to the general information about breast cancer treatments.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.


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Breast cancer survival

Find out about breast cancer survival.

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with breast cancer. It depends on your individual situation and treatment. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.


Survival by stage

No UK-wide statistics are available for different stages of breast cancer or individual treatments.

Survival statistics are available for each stage of breast cancer in one area of England. These figures are for women diagnosed between 2002 and 2006. 

Stage 1 

Around all women (around 99%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 2 

Almost 90 out of of 100 women (almost 90%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Stage 3

Almost 60 out of 100 women (almost 60%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Stage 4

15 out of 100 women (15%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. The cancer is not curable at this point, but may be controlled with treatment for some years. 

Read more about the stages of breast cancer.


Survival for all stages of breast cancer

The statistics below are for women diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales. We do not have survival data for men with breast cancer in England and Wales. This is because only a small number of men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and survival data is not routinely available. 

Generally for women with breast cancer in England and Wales

  • Around 95 out of every 100 women  (around 95%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis
  • Almost 90 out of every 100 women (almost 90%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • Almost 80 out of every 100 women (almost 80%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis
  • Around 65 out of every 100 women (around 65%) are expected to survive their cancer for more than 20 years after diagnosis

Survival for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) means the cancer cells are trapped inside the ducts of the breast. So there is very little risk of the cancer cells spreading. So if you are diagnosed with DCIS and treated, you will almost certainly be cured.


What affects survival

Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

Other factors that can affect survival include the type of cancer and whether the cancer cells have receptors for particular cancer drugs.  

The grade of the cancer cells can also affect your likely survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope. 

If breast cancer is going to come back, it is most likely to do so within the first 2 years. With some other types of cancer, you are likely to be cured if your cancer has not come back within 5 years. Unfortunately, breast cancer can come back 10 or 20 years after you were first diagnosed. But, this is not common and the more time that passes since your diagnosis, the less likely it is that your cancer will come back.

There are a number of tools available that can help doctors work out the likely outcome (prognosis) for someone with breast cancer. They include the Nottingham Prognostic Indicator (NPI), Adjuvant! Online and PREDICT. These tools look at a number of factors including the stage, grade and hormone receptors on the cancer cell. Your doctors will choose the tool that they think is most suitable for you. These tools can also help doctors make decisions about the risks and benefits of particular treatments for people after surgery.


About these statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

The survival statistics on this page are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.


Clinical trials for breast cancer treatments

Research into breast cancer treatments is continuing to improve the outlook for people with breast cancer. There is detailed information about clinical trials on this website. You can search our clinical trials database for trials for breast cancer.

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More detailed statistics

Read more about understanding statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics.

For more in-depth information about survival and other statistics for breast cancer, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

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Updated: 30 July 2014