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Predicted improvements in breast cancer survival

This page tells you about improvements in long term survival for breast cancer. You can find information about


Breast cancer survival

Breast cancer survival has been improving for the past 20 years. It takes time to gather statistics and put them together. The information about long term survival available up until now has been based on women diagnosed and treated 10 to 20 years ago. But in 2005, for the first time researchers and statisticians were able to use new techniques to estimate the 10 and 20 year survival of women diagnosed much more recently. These are called predicted, projected or estimated figures

If you would like to find out more about cancer statistics there is a section with detailed information about cancer incidence, mortality and survival in the about cancer section. We have information about survival for breast cancer in the breast cancer section. There is information about 5 year and 10 year survival rates.


The predicted survival figures

In 2012, the latest predicted survival rates for breast cancer in the UK during 2005-2009 show that

  • 95.8% of women will live for 1 year or more
  • 85.1% will live for 5 years or more
  • 77% will live for 10 years or more

The results show a big improvement in long term survival. The figures are for women with invasive breast cancer, not DCIS. This compares to 10 year survival figures of 54 in every 100 women (54%) for people diagnosed in the early 1990s, and 64 in every 100 women (64%) for people diagnosed between 1996 and 1998. 


Why are survival rates improving?

There is probably no single reason for this improvement. It is more likely to be down to a combination of factors. These include earlier diagnosis and increased awareness of breast cancer and its symptoms.

Breast cancer screening with mammography is a particularly important reason for increased survival. Added to this are continued advances in treating breast cancer. There have been improvements in surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as well as hormone treatments such as anastrozole (Arimidex). And the biological therapy trastuzumab (Herceptin) is also an important advance in treatment. 

Other improvements over the past 15 years have included the management of women with breast cancer by multidisciplinary teams (MDTs). A MDT is a team of health professionals who work together to decide on the best treatment plan for each patient. The MDT includes professionals such as breast surgeons and cancer specialists, specialist nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists. 

The researchers think that the improved survival rates could also be due to more women going into clinical trials.


Where to get more information

There is detailed information about breast cancer and how it is diagnosed and treated in the breast cancer section.

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Updated: 15 October 2012