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Survivorship Introduction

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Life After Treatment
Fact Sheet

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Follow-up
Fact Sheet

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Survival after breast cancer

Most people diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States will live for many years.

Overall, the five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is 89 percent and the 10-year relative survival rate is 82 percent [3]. Relative survival compares survival rates between people with breast cancer and the general population. So, people with breast cancer are, on average, 89 percent as likely as other people to live five years beyond their diagnosis.

It is important to keep in mind survival rates are averages and vary depending on each person’s specific diagnosis and treatment. For example, the five-year relative survival for stage II breast cancer is 92 percent [4]. This means women with stage II breast cancer are, on average, 92 percent as likely as women in the general population to live five years beyond their diagnosis. Women with stage 0 (ductal carcinoma in situ, DCIS) or stage I breast cancer are just as likely as women in the general population to live five more years. Moreover, these survival rates are for people diagnosed up to 10 years ago. With recent advances in treatment and early detection, people diagnosed with breast cancer today may have even greater survival rates.  

Learn more about survival after early breast cancer

Learn more about survival and breast cancer stage.

Unique issues for breast cancer survivors

Once your breast cancer treatment ends, your life changes in many ways. You face a new set of issues and concerns. You may have side effects (like lymphedema) or have issues related to sexuality, fertility or menopause. You may be concerned about family members getting breast cancer and also worry that your own cancer will come back. There are things you can do that may ease many of these concerns.  

Returning to work

Many people who are employed at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis return to work after treatment [5-7]. Your health care provider can help you decide when (and if) you are able to return to work (part time or full time). Going back to work can increase your emotional and social well-being [6-7]. However, it can be physically and mentally challenging [6-7]. You may need to adjust some aspects of your job, especially during the first months after treatment ends. Having a supportive employer can help ease the move back to the workplace [5].

Talk to your provider about ways to make your return to the workplace as easy as possible. Some organizations, such as Cancer and Careers, also offer tips on going back to work after breast cancer treatment.

Learn about insurance and other financial issues.

Updated 02/05/14

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Survivorship Topics 

 Fear of Getting Cancer Again (Relapse, Recurrence) 

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Lymphedema 

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Sexuality and Intimacy 

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Having Children After Breast Cancer 

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Concern for Family Members 

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Quality of Life Issues 

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