"Doctor, What are My Chances?......."

Perhaps every breast cancer survivor has wondered, and every clinician has wondered what is the risk of breast cancer recurrence over the survivor's lifespan.  What data is available, and does it reflect decades of follow up?

     A recent publication in the March 20, 2016 Journal of Clinical Oncology (Annual Hazard Rates of Recurrence for Breast Cancer During 24 Years of Follow up: Results from the International Breast Cancer Study Group Trials I to V)  reviews follow up data for 4,100 women over several decades of careful follow up.  Caveats to consider include  A.) The difference in adjuvant  (post operative) therapies offered breast cancer patients from 1978-1985, compared to those considered state of the art in 2016, and in the recent past.  B.)  Despite the different treatments offered, one can see the highest recurrence rate in this data base is in the first 5 years, and in particular in the first 2 years following diagnosis.  Additionally, a steady small rate of recurrence exists yearly beyond 10 years.  and C.)  In order to learn from data that has accumulated more than 20 years of experience with treatment results and recurrence, we have to accept that previous generations of therapy that were considered standard of care are not current with today's treatment standards, yet tell us something about the biology of breast cancer. 

      To learn more of this article, look for it in the Survival/Prognosis categories in the Cancer Care Professional's Library and the Primary Healthcare Library on the Pink Ribbon Survivors Network website contained herein.  Or access the abstract here: http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/34/9/927.abstract?sid=a92343ab-3de7-4b9a-ba28-c3357e1c0c4f.