Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. If you have symptoms of cancer contact your doctor.

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Survival

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Survival for breast cancer is generally good, particularly if you are diagnosed early. This is probably because of screening, early diagnosis and improved treatment.

Survival depends on many different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live. It depends on your:

  • type and stage of cancer
  • level of fitness
  • previous treatment
Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). You can also talk about this with the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Survival by stage

No UK-wide statistics are available for different stages of breast cancer or individual treatments. These figures are for survival by stage for women in England, five years after diagnosis. These are from women diagnosed between 2013 and 2017 and followed up to 2018.

Stage 1

Most women (around 98%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 2

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

Stage 3

More than 70 out of 100 women (more than 70%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Stage 4

Around 25 out of 100 women (around 25%) 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.

Cancer survival by stage at diagnosis for England, 2019
Office for National Statistics

These figures are for people diagnosed in England between 2013 and 2017. 

These statistics are for net survival. Net survival estimates the number of people who survive their cancer rather than calculating the number of people diagnosed with cancer who are still alive. In other words, it is the survival of cancer patients after taking into account that some people would have died from other causes if they had not had cancer.

Survival for all stages of breast cancer

Generally for women with breast cancer in England:

  • Around 95 out of every 100 women (around 95%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis
  • Around 85 out of every 100 women (around 85%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • Around 75 out of every 100 women (around 75%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis

Cancer survival by stage at diagnosis for England, 2019
Office for National Statistics

These statistics are for net survival. Net survival estimates the number of people who survive their cancer rather than calculating the number of people diagnosed with cancer who are still alive. In other words, it is the survival of cancer patients after taking into account that some people would have died from other causes if they had not had cancer.

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.

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

Your general health and fitness also affect survival, the fitter you are, the better you may be able to cope with your cancer and treatment.

Another factor that can affect survival is whether the cancer cells have receptors for particular cancer drugs.

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer.

Some people live much longer than 5 years.

Statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. They can’t predict exactly what will happen to you. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

More statistics

For more in depth information about breast cancer survival, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

Information and help