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Breast cancer survival statistics

One-, five-, ten- and twenty-year survival statistics for breast cancer by age and trends over time are presented here. The ICD code for breast cancer is ICD-10 C50. Due to the small numbers of men diagnosed each year with breast cancer survival data is not published for males.

The statistics on these pages give an overall picture of survival. Unless otherwise stated, the statistics include all female adults diagnosed with breast cancer, at all ages, stages and co-morbidities. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics. If you are a patient, you will probably find our CancerHelp pages more relevant and useful.

The latest survival statistics available for breast cancer in England are 2005-2009 (followed up to 2010). Find out why these are the latest statistics available.

One-, five-, ten- and twenty-year survival

One-, five-, ten-, and twenty-year survival statistics for breast cancer by age and trends over time are presented here. The latest age-standardised relative survival for breast cancer in England during 2005-2009, shows that 95.8% of women are expected to survive their disease for at least one year, falling to 85.1% surviving five years or more (Table 3.1).1-3 Broadly similar patterns have been reported for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.4-6

Table 3.1: Breast cancer (C50), Age-Standardised One-, Five-, Ten- and Twenty-Year Relative Survival, Females (Aged 15-99), England 2005-2009, England and Wales 2007 and 2001-03

Relative Survival (%)
1 Year 5 Year 10 Year 20 Year
Sex 2005-2009 2005-2009 2007 2001-2003
Female 95.8 85.1 77.0 64.5

Download this table XLS (33KB)

Survival has been predicted at 10 years (using the hybrid approach) and 20 years (using the period approach) for patients diagnosed in the years shown

A common misconception is to treat five-year survival as ‘cured’. However, for breast cancer survival continues to fall beyond five years after diagnosis to around three quarters of women at ten years and almost two thirds of women survived their disease after twenty years (Table 3.1).1-3

The five-year relative survival for breast cancer is among the highest of the 21 most common cancers in England.1

section reviewed 15/07/13
section updated 15/07/13

 

By age

Breast cancer survival varies by age at diagnosis. For most cancers relative survival decreases with age but breast cancer is unusual in that women diagnosed in their 50s and 60s have consistently higher survival than either younger or older women. It has been suggested that survival for younger women diagnosed with breast cancer is lower because the types of breast cancer diagnosed in pre-menopausal women tend to be more aggressive.7,8

The five-year relative survival for breast cancer in England during 2005-2009 ranged from 84% in 15-39 year olds to a peak of 90% in 50-69 year olds, then decreasing gradually to 69% in 80-99 year olds (Figure 3.1).1

Figure 3.1: Breast cancer (C50), Five-Year Relative Survival by Age, Females, England 2005-2009

surv_5yr_age_breast.swf

Download this chart XLS (53KB)

section reviewed 10/05/12
section updated 10/05/12

Trends over time

As with the majority of cancers, relative survival for breast cancer is improving. This can generally be attributed to faster diagnosis due to improvements in treatment, raised awareness and the NHS Screening Program.9 However, there is still scope for improvement and increasing cancer survival remains a major priority of Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer.10 An outcome of this Strategy is the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI), which is a public sector/third sector partnership between the Department of Health, National Cancer Action Team, and Cancer Research UK. The role of NAEDI is to promote the earlier diagnosis of cancer, and this will involve researching ways to further improve survival from breast cancer.

One-year relative survival has been used as an indicator of early diagnosis, since death before one year is likely to be due to the disease being diagnosed at a late stage. One-year relative survival for breast cancer increased from 82% in England and Wales during 1971-1975 to 95.8% in England during 2005-2009 (Figure 3.2).1,11-13

Figure 3.2: Breast cancer (C50), Age-standardised One-Year Relative Survival, Females, England and Wales 1971-1995 and England 1996-2009 

surv_1yr_breast.swf

Download this chart XLS (56KB)

Survival is for England only from 1996 onwards

While relative survival is still influenced by early diagnosis after five years, it is also strongly dependent on the success of treatment. Five-year relative survival for breast cancer increased from 52% in England and Wales during 1971-1975 to 85.1% in England during 2005-2009 (Figure 3.3).1,11-13

Figure 3.3: Breast cancer (C50), Age-Standardised Five-Year Relative Survival, Females, England and Wales 1971-1995, England 1996-2009

surv_1yr_breast.swf

Download this chart XLS (56KB)

Survival is for England only from 1996 onwards

Ten-year relative survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer increased from 41% in England and Wales during 1971-1975 to a predicted* 78.4% in England in 2007 (Figure 3.4).2,13,14

Figure 3.4: Breast cancer (C50), Age-Standardised Ten-Year Relative Survival, Females, England and Wales 1971-1995 and Predicted 2007, England 1996-2003

surv_10yr_breast.swf

Download this chart XLS (56KB)


Survival is not age-standardised from 1971-1985
*The ten-year survival has been predicted for patients diagnosed in 2007 (using the hybrid approach).

section reviewed 10/05/12
section updated 10/05/12

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References for breast cancer survival

  1. For data for 2005-2009: Office for National Statistics (ONS). Cancer survival in England: Patients diagnosed 2005-2009 and followed up to 2010. London: ONS; 2011.
  2. For data for 2007: Coleman MP, et al. Research commissioned by Cancer Research UK, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 2010.
  3. For data for 2001-2003 Office for National Statistics (ONS). Cancer survival rates , Long-term Breast Cancer Survival, England and Wales. London: ONS; 2005.
  4. Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU). Cancer Survival Trends in Wales 1985-2004. Cardiff: WCISU; 2010.
  5. Information Services Division Scotland (ISD Scotland). Cancer Statistics. Cancer of the Breast. Accessed September 2011.
  6. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR). Cancer Survival Online Statistics. Breast. Accessed September 2011.
  7. Mathew A, Pandey M, Rajan B. Do younger women with non-metastatic and non-inflammatory breast carcinoma have poor prognosis? World J Surg Oncol. 2004;2(1):2.
  8. Chia KS, Du WB, Sankaranarayanan R, et al. Do younger female breast cancer patients have a poorer prognosis? Results from a population-based survival analysis. Int J Cancer 2004;108(5):761-765.
  9. NHS Breast Screening Programme
  10. Department of Health Improving outcomes: a strategy for cancer. London: Department of Health; 2011.
  11. For data for 1971-1990: Coleman MP, Babb P, Damiecki P, et al. Cancer Survival Trends in England and Wales, 1971-1995: Deprivation and NHS Region. Series SMPS No 61. London: ONS; 1999.
  12. For data for 1991-1995: Office for National Statistics (ONS). Cancer Survival: England and Wales, 1991-2001, twenty major cancers by age group. London: ONS; 2005.
  13. For data for 1996-2003: Rachet B, Maringe C, Nur U, et al. Population-based cancer survival trends in England and Wales up to 2007. Lancet Oncol 2009;10:351-369. Age-standardised figures were provided by the author on request.
  14. Cancer Research UK. CancerStats report. Survival – England and Wales. London: Cancer Research UK; 2004.
Updated: 22 December 2009