A cancer diagnosis is often the first step into a world of uncertainty. And, of course, the most significant questions swirl around survival. But, until now, doctors have had little ability to give reasonable answers to the survival questions of cancer patients.
A new study sheds light on the issue for five-year breast cancer survivors.
As reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers at M.D. Anderson tracked women treated at their facility between 1985 and 2001. The study followed over 2,800 women who were cancer free at the five-year mark. These women had undergone surgery and radiation to remove the tumor, and then received follow-up treatment with either chemotherapy or hormone therapy, or the two in combination.
The researchers were pleasantly surprised with the results. Women with stage I breast cancer had a post five-year recurrence rate of 7 percent. Those women with stage II breast cancer had a post five-year recurrence rate of 11 percent, and women with stage III breast cancer had a rate of 13 percent.
Prior to this study doctors had no substantive data upon which to answer the question of recurrence rates. Now they believe they can provide women with accurate feedback. They also believe the recurrence rates are much lower than most women had previously suspected.
The study did not assess the most recent cancer treatments, including aromatase inhibitors and Genentech's Herceptin.
So, this is good news for breast cancer survivors. It appears your odds of beating the odds are looking up.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about all aspects of breast cancer, see this from BreastCancer.org.