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What Is The Percentage Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

How Quickly Do Breast Cancer Tumors Grow From Stage To Stage

What is a Breast Cancer Survivor’s Likelihood of Recurrence?

Cancer cells divide and multiply quickly in such a way that as a tumor gets bigger, it divides and grows even faster. The average doubling time for breast cancer tumors is between 50 and 200 days. Breast cancer tumor growth rate is impacted by hormonal factors, such as hormone receptor status and HER2 status.

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Integrative Subtypes And Late Recurrence

Researchers recently developed a model to identify 11 integrative subtypes of breast cancer with different risks and timing of recurrence, according to the findings of a 2019 study published online in Nature.

Four integrative subtypes were identified that were associated with a high risk of late recurrence . Altogether, these four subtypes accounted for roughly 26% of breast cancers that were estrogen receptor-positive and HER2 negative.

These subtypes included tumors that had an enriched copy number alterations in genes that are thought to drive the growth of cancer , including:

  • CCND1
  • RPS6KB1
  • MYC

They were also able to identify a subgroup of triple-negative tumors that were unlikely to recur after five years as well as a subgroup in which people continue to be at risk of late recurrence. A Breast Cancer Recurrence Calculator including integrative subtypes has been developed but, at the current time, this is meant for research purposes alone.

Secondary Breast Cancer Prognosis

If cancer has spread from the breast to another part of the body , it can be treated but it cant be cured.

No two cancers progress in the same way, and as treatments have improved more and more people are living longer after a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

Your specialist will have an understanding of the likely progression of your secondary breast cancer and can talk to you about what you might expect.

Find out more about secondary breast cancer.

Read Also: Estrogen And Progesterone Positive Breast Cancer Prognosis

When To Contact A Doctor

A person may wish to contact a doctor if they notice signs that their cancer has returned.

Since the cancer may have spread, a person should contact a doctor about any unusual symptoms throughout their body, not just their breasts.

When making an appointment, a person should be prepared to talk about any new symptoms they are experiencing. They may also want to be ready to discuss their history with cancer.

A doctor may want to ask questions, order tests, and perform a physical examination.

Our Bodies Can Heal After Breast Cancer


I am constantly amazed at how many natural substances and simple healthy habits are available which can kick in immune system defenses and other cancer-busting mechanisms. What is more, these natural substances and healthy lifestyle habits come with absolutely no dangerous side effects whatsoever and may be able to stop Breast Cancer stem cells at the same time.

Dr. Veronique Desaulniers, better known as Dr. V, is the founder of The 7 Essentials System , a step-by-step guide that teaches you exactly how to prevent and heal Breast Cancer Naturally. To get your F.R.E.E. 7-day mini e-course, and to receive her weekly action steps and inspiring articles on the power of Natural Medicine, visit

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Treatment Type And Breast Cancer Survival

One major decision you may face with early breast cancer is whether to have lumpectomy plus radiation therapy or mastectomy. They are equally effective in treating early breast cancer.

Overall survival is the same for lumpectomy plus radiation therapy and mastectomy. This means both treatments lower the risk of dying by the same amount.

For a summary of research studies on lumpectomy plus radiation therapy and mastectomy in the treatment of early breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

What Women Can Do Themselves

There are some things women can do themselves to lower their risk of late recurrence:

  • Regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of death from breast cancer as well as death from all causes.
  • It’s important for everyone to have their vitamin D level tested, although the role of vitamin D is still uncertain. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with bone loss, a concern for most people who have coped with breast cancer.
  • Losing weight if you are overweight, or maintaining a healthy weight is important as well.

Read Also: Prognosis For Stage 3 Breast Cancer

More Than One Primary Cancer

Several members of my family have had two different primary cancers my sister has had three primaries, all early stage and treated only with surgery (renal cell carcinoma dx 1995, papillary thyroid cancer, dx 2004 and non-small cell lung cancer, dx 2004. She is now cancer free and has never had a relapse of any of her cancers. However, this year, when her doctor scheduled annual follow-up CT scans, her insurance company refused to pay for them. We have genetic cancers in our family, and are in the process of appealing.

I have read that 10% of cancer survivors have a second primary, and 0.01% of allsurvivors have three primaries.

Locally Advanced Breast Cancer Prognosis

Breast Cancer Recurrence Treatment

If breast cancer has come back and spread to the tissues and lymph nodes around the chest, neck and under the breastbone, there may be an increased risk of cancer cells spreading to other areas of the body.

This means the overall prognosis can be harder to predict.

Treatments such as chemotherapy, hormone and targeted therapies are given for locally advanced breast cancer because they work throughout the whole body.

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Risk Factors For Overall Recurrence

There are several risk factors that raise the risk of recurrence overall . These include:

  • Tumor size: Larger tumors are more likely to recur than smaller ones both early and late.
  • Positive lymph nodes: Tumors that have spread to lymph nodes are more likely to recur at any time than those that have not.
  • Age at diagnosis: Breast cancer recurrence is more common in younger people.
  • Treatments received and response to treatments: Both chemotherapy and hormonal therapy reduce the risk of recurrence in the first five years.
  • Tumor grade: More aggressive tumors are more likely to recur than less aggressive tumors , especially in the first five years.

There are also factors that do not appear to affect the risk of recurrence. Recurrence rates are the same for women who have a mastectomy or lumpectomy with radiation and are also the same for women who have a single vs. double mastectomy.

Why People Are Getting Covid

Were seeing more reinfections now than during the first year of the pandemic, which is not necessarily surprising, Dr. Esper says.

The CDC says cases of COVID-19 reinfection remain rare but possible. And with statistics and recommendations changing so quickly and so frequently, that rare status could always change, as well.

Dr. Esper breaks down the reasons behind reinfection.

  • The pandemic has been happening for a while: As we near year two of pandemic life, several hundred million people have now been infected with and recovered from coronavirus. At this point, many of those infections happened months or even a year ago, Dr. Esper says, and the immunity from those initial infections begins to wane over time.
  • Vaccine immunity diminishes with time, too: For Americans who got vaccinated as early as last winter, immunity may be starting to wane as the one-year mark approaches.
  • Weve stopped being as careful: As travel and large events make a comeback, gone are the days of mass vigilance around safety precautions such as masking, handwashing and social distancing all the things that initially kept the virus at bay.
  • New variants are extra-contagious: COVID-19 variants are much more infectious than the first wave of coronavirus. These variants are able to overcome some of the existing immunity people had developed via vaccination or a previous infection, Dr. Esper explains.
  • Read Also: Which Type Of Breast Cancer Has The Poorest Prognosis

    Read Also: Stage 3 B Breast Cancer

    What Are The Signs Of Distant Breast Cancer Recurrence

    If your breast cancer has spread to other parts to the body, known as distant recurrence, there are a number of possible symptoms, including:

    • Fatigue
    • Unexpected weight loss or change in appetite
    • Severe or ongoing headaches
    • Nausea

    However, symptoms will vary depending on where the secondary cancer presents. Sometimes recurrence is identified on a scan or blood test that was done for a reason other than breast cancer.

    Studies have shown that doctors are sometimes reluctant to mention the symptoms of metastatic disease. In medical school it was suggested that we shouldnt tell people who had been treated for cancer what to look for if they were worried about recurrences because theyd start imagining that they had every symptom we told them about, but that doesnt reassure people at all it just means theyll be afraid of everything instead of a few specific things. When youve had cancer, youre acutely aware of your body, and any symptom thats newor that you never noticed beforecan take on terrifying significance as you worry that your cancer may be back. Inevitably this will mean a lot of fear over symptoms that turn out to be harmless.

    As I explain to my patients, there are good reasons these days to remain optimistic, even after cancer comes back. Newer, better treatments are becoming available all the time. And for women who were treated a long time ago, the options for treatment may have changed and improved significantly since the first time they were treated

    Health Disparities In Young African Americans

    Breast cancer recurrence and obesity

    In addition to these unique issues, research has shown that young African American women face even greater challenges.

    • African American women under age 35 have rates of breast cancer two times higher than caucasian women under age 35.14
    • African Americans under age 35 die from breast cancer three times as often as caucasian women of the same age.14
    • Researchers believe that access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare available may explain these disparities. But scientists continue to investigate.
    • Research also shows that young African Americans are more likely to get aggressive forms of breast cancer than anyone else.14

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    How Is A Local Recurrence After Lumpectomy Diagnosed

    After a diagnosis of early stage breast cancer, any remaining breast tissue should be evaluated annually with scans .

    Most local recurrences within the breast after lumpectomy are detected on routine annual breast imaging, which usually takes the form of mammography and ultrasound, and on occasions MRI.

    If you have a local recurrence or new primary breast cancer, you may find symptoms similar to an initial breast cancer. This includes:

    • A new lump in the breast, armpit area or around the collarbone
    • A change in breast size or shape
    • Changes to the nipple, such as sores or crusting, an ulcer or inverted nipple
    • Clear or bloody nipple discharge
    • Changes to the skin including redness, puckering or dimpling
    • Breast tenderness or pain

    Once a local recurrence has been diagnosed, we do tests to see whether there are signs of cancer elsewhere in the body. These may include a chest X-ray, CT scan, bone scan or PET scan, and blood tests , then we have to figure out how best to treat the tumour in the breast. Usually in these cases we do a mastectomy, as the prior less drastic surgery and radiation didnt take care of it.

    Determining Risk Of Recurrence In Triple

    A personalized prognosis for patients diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer was the goal of a new study by Katherine Varley, PhD, researcher at Huntsman Cancer Institute and assistant professor of oncological sciences at the University of Utah.

    Twenty percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States will learn they have triple-negative breast cancer. That diagnosis means the three most common proteins known to fuel breast cancer growthestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2are not present in the tumor. Those patients will not respond to any of the targeted therapies developed to treat breast cancer with those characteristics. After surgery, their only treatment option is chemotherapy. Targeted therapy allows healthy cells to survive, but chemotherapy can kill normal cells when eliminating the cancer cells.

    Varley worked closely on the study with Rachel Stewart, DO, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Kentucky. They used specimens from patients treated at HCI. The tumor samples were taken more than five years ago, so the researchers could determine how each patient fared in the long term. The next step was developing a way to test for biomarkers of the immune response. The biomarker test was developed using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. This is important because it means this test can be run on tumor biopsy specimens that are routinely collected for breast cancer diagnosis.

    Also Check: What Does Stage 3 Cancer Mean

    Screening: A Preventive Measure For Cancer

    Cancer detected at an early stage gives the best chance of survival. But when management is delayed, patients are more likely to face greater problems and higher costs of care.

    If cancer is in your genes, or if you have a risk for certain type of malignancy, its best to do regular screening, advises Dr. Ladera. Screening and detecting cancer at the earliest stage offers your best chance for cure.

    Compared to early diagnosis, screening is a totally different strategy that checks on illnesses that might be present, even if one is presumed healthy.

    There are three Rs that need to be assed when doing cancer screening: risk factors, recommendations and rationale.

    Unfortunately, many patients overlook the cancer screening process due to multiple factors.

    Some are worried that they might test positive for cancer, others fear the procedure itself, some are unaware of where to go and how to book a screening schedule, and to a huge chunk of patients, they view screenings and checkups as another financial burden for their families.

    The PGH Cancer Institute shared that pre-pandemic, the hospital would cater to an average of 120 patients daily. But in 2020 onwards, an average of 20 percent of cancer patients have not returned for their regular treatments, and some have already relapsed.

    How Is A Local Recurrence Or Metastasis Found

    What Is Late Recurrence & How to Prevent It

    Breast cancer can recur at the original site . It can also return and spread to other parts of the body .

    Local recurrence is usually found on a mammogram, during a physical exam by a health care provider or when you notice a change in or around the breast or underarm.

    Metastasis is usually found when symptoms are reported to a provider.

    If you have a local recurrence or metastasis, its not your fault. You did nothing to cause it.

    Learn about follow-up care after breast cancer treatment.

    Read Also: Mbc Metastatic Breast Cancer

    What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

    If you develop cancer in the opposite, untreated breast , you receive a new breast cancer diagnosis. This isnt the same as breast cancer recurrence.

    When breast cancer returns, it may be:

    • Local: Cancer returns in the same breast or chest area as the original tumor.
    • Regional: Cancer comes back near the original tumor, in lymph nodes in the armpit or collarbone area.
    • Distant: Breast cancer spreads away from the original tumor to the lungs, bones, brain or other parts of the body. This is metastatic cancer, often referred to as stage 4 breast cancer.

    Four Steps To Avoid A Recurrence

    Theres nothing you can do to guarantee that your cancer wont come back, but you can make some changes to help you feel your best after cancer treatment and keep your body stay strong.

    Eat a balanced diet. Reach for a colorful mix of fruits and vegetables, good sources of fiber like beans and peas, and whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice every day. Avoid or limit drinks that are high in sugar and red or processed meat like beef, pork, hot dogs and sausages. You probably dont need to take vitamin or mineral supplements, unless your care team suggests them. In fact, taking more of certain vitamins or minerals than you need can have a negative effect on your cancer recovery, so be sure to discuss any supplements youre considering with your care team before taking them.

    Exercise on most days of the week. Being active can improve your mood, boost self-esteem and reduce fatigue. Its even been shown to lower anxiety and depression and relieve nausea, pain and diarrhea.

    Lean on a strong support system. Cancer might be all about the cellular changes in your body, but you know it certainly doesnt stop there. Taking care of your emotional health, whether it be cultivating a strong circle of friends and family as support or getting mental health services, can help you manage the stressors that cancer treatment and recovery can bring.

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    Mastectomy And Local Recurrence

    With mastectomy, the best predictor of local recurrence is whether the lymph nodes in the underarm area contain cancer.

    The risk of recurrence is usually higher when there are more axillary lymph nodes with cancer than when there are few or no nodes with cancer .

    • When the axillary nodes dont contain cancer, the chance of local recurrence in 5 years is about 6 percent .
    • When the axillary nodes contain cancer, the chance of local recurrence in 5 years is about 23 percent following mastectomy without radiation therapy . Radiation therapy can reduce this risk to about 6 percent .

    Learn more about breast cancer recurrence.

    Beyond The First 5 Years

    Breast Cancer Recurrence

    The risk of breast cancer recurrence is highest during the first 2 years after the initial diagnosis. As time passes, the risk of recurrence steadily decreases. Many survivors celebrate their 5-year cancer-free date because it is well known that the vast majority of patients who have not had a recurrence by that time have a relatively low risk of recurrence at all.

    A late recurrence of breast cancer is one that recurs after the 5-year milestone. Since the likelihood of recurrence is so low at this point, we must ask ourselves:

    • Who experiences a late recurrence?

    • What factors contribute to their risk?

    • Why do seemingly cured patients, like my mother, have to face their cancer again?

    Doctors, scientists, and researchers have identified factors that are related to the potential risks for late recurrence of breast cancer. Generally, these factors relate to the patients age, the cancers stage at diagnosis, hormone receptor status, genetic information, and lymph node involvement. Overall, the risk of a recurrence after 5 years is low, but breast cancer survivors with a higher risk of late recurrence are:

    • Survivors with the following receptor statuses

    • Estrogen receptor-positive tumor

  • Tumor larger than 2 centimeters

  • High number of involved lymph nodes

  • Postmenopausal survivors who are younger than 60 and had

  • Tumor larger than 2 cm

  • High number of involved lymph nodes

  • Postmenopausal women who are older than 60 and had

  • High number of involved lymph nodes

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