When you or a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer, it can be the scariest moment of your life. The truth is, survival rates for breast cancer are often quite high, especially for those who recognize early symptoms and seek treatment during the first stages of the disease. Long-term breast cancer survival is entirely possible. Knowing about breast cancer survival can prepare you for life after treatment and give you a more accurate perspective of your condition.
An initial diagnosis of breast cancer may sound like a death sentence, but most of the time this is not the case. The earlier the diagnosis, the more likely it is that you will recover and live for many more years. Those diagnosed with stage I breast cancer have a 100 percent survival rate for five years. This means that women who have tumor sizes that are less than 2 cm, have no lymph node involvement or metastasis, and follow recommended treatment face almost no risk of dying from breast cancer.
Breast cancer five-year survival rates for stage II diagnoses are almost as good as stage I. Those diagnosed with stage IIA breast cancer have a 92 percent survival rate. Those with stage IIB have an 81 percent five-year survival rate. The odds of survival at this stage are vastly greater than the odds against survival. It’s important, then, to focus on your treatment as just another “stage” in your life. For most people, having cancer at this stage is not the end of life but rather simply an unpleasant step in the very long and volatile journey of life itself.
Those diagnosed with stage III breast cancer have lower odds of survival than those with stage I or II, but the survival rates remain high. Sixty-seven percent of those with stage IIIA breast cancer can expect survival for at least five years, while 54 percent of those with stage IIIB survive the disease. Still, all things considered, these are good odds.
The five year survival rate for stage IV breast cancers, at 20 percent, is significantly lower. This survival rate highlights the importance of conducting monthly self-exams and getting annual mammograms from qualified professionals. In stage IV breast cancer, also called metastatic breast cancer, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, making it much more difficult to treat.