This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables offer an informative look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, they should be viewed with some caution. In order to read and interpret research tables successfully, it is important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.
Introduction: Tumor size is related to breast cancer recurrence and survival. Data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program – which collects cancer data in the U.S. – clearly show as tumor size increases, breast cancer survival decreases.
Study selection criteria: Most recent SEER data on tumor size and breast cancer survival by lymph node status (whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes).
Table note: Relative survival compares survival rates (over a certain period of time) for women with breast cancer versus women in the general population.
For example, for women with breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes (lymph node-positive), the five-year relative survival for women with a tumor smaller than one centimeter is 93 percent. This means that these women are on average, 93 percent as likely as women in the general population to live five years beyond their diagnosis.
For women with breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes (lymph node-negative), the five-year relative survival for women with a tumor smaller than one centimeter is 100 percent. So, these women are, on average, just as likely as women in the general population to live five years beyond their diagnosis.
Relative survival rates are averages and vary depending on each person’s diagnosis and treatment.
Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program FindingsAmong 21,465 women diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer between 1995 and 1999
Five-year relative breast cancer survival
Smaller than 1 cm
Larger than 5 cm
cm = centimeter
1. Elkin EB, Hudis C, Begg CB, Schrag D. The effect of changes in tumor size on breast carcinoma survival in the U.S.: 1975-1999. Cancer. 104(6):1149-57, 2005.
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