According to the ACS, 5 year survival rates are a less valid measure than mortality because finding more cancers earlier can actually skew the results. Mammography can detect cancers earlier than if they had been found by physical examination, but that does not necessarily mean that those cancers would have been deadly or if early detection simply extends the number of years we know about them and therefore makes a measure 5 years from diagnosis look more positive than it actually is.
“It is often repeated that 98% of women with early stage breast cancer are alive at five years after diagnosis. However, an estimated 20% to 30% of women will have a recurrence of their disease, and may go on to die of the disease, but are included as survivors in these five-year survival statistics. We still do not know how to prevent recurrence and metastasis for most women or how many of the women reported to have survived five years will go on to have a recurrence and metastasis.” — NBCC- National Breast Cancer Coalition website
5 year survival rates
- By stage: 98% localized; 84% regional; 23% metastatic [ACS, 2011-12 Report]
- By stage: 15% Metastatic [ACS using College of Surgeons database]
- By race: 78% African American women vs 90% Caucasian [ACS , 2011-2012 Report]
- All breast cancers: 89% at 5 years; 82% at 10 years; 77% at 15 years
10 year survival rates
- Breast Cancer 82% [ACS,2012]
- Median years of survival after an MBC diagnosis: 2-3 years (was 18 months in the 80’s [ACS, 2007])
Metastatic Breast Cancer survival rates
- Median survival after diagnosis is three years. There has been no statistically significant improvement in the past twenty years.
(American Society of Clinical Oncology [ASCO] Report – 2008)
- Despite the decrease in cancer mortality rates since 1990, the actual number of Americans losing their battle with the disease has hovered around 40,000 each year since at least the year 2000. (American Cancer Society statistics 2000 – 2011)