A new study finds that while breast cancer was once a death sentence, it’s now virtually a survivable disease.
The study comes from the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center. Results shows that 60 years ago, a woman diagnosed with any form of breast cancer had just a 25 percent chance of living 10 more full years, now, today, the survival rate for breast cancer is more than 75 percent.
Research from this report focused on women who were treated at the University of Texas, but while it doesn’t track changes across the country, this study shows an increasing trend of breast cancer survival.
It should be noted the MD Anderson Cancer center maintains a comprehensive database since it’s founding nearly 70 years ago. The study examined health records of 56,864 breast cancer patients between 1944 and 2004. The research finds an increase in both five and ten year survival at every stage of breast cancer, in each decade examined.
The study further shows that patients with small tumors that haven’t spread and could be treated with surgery and radiation have commonly fared the best. In 1944, patients with small tumors had a 57 percent chance to live; now these chances have increased to over 75 percent.
Stage four of breast cancer—when cancer cells spread to other parts of body—ran a three percent survival; today this has risen to 22 percent.
The center’s finding was presented by Dr. Aman Buzdar at the 2010 Breast Cancer Symposium, which was sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Buzdar stated, “This dramatic shift is a true testament to not only breast cancer’s overall research and clinical milestones — improved chemotherapies, addition of new drugs, improvement of endocrine therapies and more recently biologics—but to the appropriate and disciplined approach and utilization of these therapies.”
He went on to note that now is the time for improving breast cancer therapies.
“Now, we need to turn our attention to the refinement of breast cancer therapies, with a goal of further decreasing risk of recurrence and death for our high-risk early stage breast cancer patients, and maintaining the control of disease in those with metastasis disease.”