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: Estrogen receptor status helps guide treatment for breast cancer. Breast cancers that have a large number of estrogen receptors (estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) tumors) can be treated with hormone therapies like tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.
Estrogen receptor status is also a prognostic factor. ER+ tumors tend to be linked to better survival than tumors with few or no estrogen receptors (estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) tumors).
As the studies below show, five-year survival is about 10 percent better for women with ER+ breast cancer than for those with ER- tumors. However, after five years, this survival difference begins to lessen and over time may even disappear [1,2]. As ER- breast cancers tend to recur earlier than ER+ cancers, survival at 10 years after diagnosis may not differ.
Learn more about estrogen receptor status.
HER2/neu (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) status and estrogen receptor status
Similar to estrogen receptor status, HER2/neu status helps guide breast cancer treatment. HER2/neu protein appears on the surface of some breast cancer cells. This protein is an important part of the pathway for cell growth and survival. HER2/neu-positive (HER2+) breast cancers have a lot of HER2/neu protein. About 15 to 20 percent of breast cancers are HER2+ .
HER2+ cancers tend to be more aggressive and have a worse prognosis than other cancers . HER2+ tumors also tend to be ER-. Because both HER2/neu status and estrogen receptor status are factors in prognosis, studies of either factor should take into account the other.
Learn more about HER2/neu status. Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies. Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studies with at least 500 participants and at least five years of follow-up.
Study Population(number of participants)
Characteristics of Breast Cancer
Five-Year Overall Survival
Prospective cohort studies
Stage I, II or III
Women younger than 40: 90%*Sig
Women 40-49: 94%*Sig
Women 50-59: 95%*Sig
Women 60-69: 95%*Sig
Women 70-74: 94%*Sig
Women younger than 40: 78%*Sig
Women 40-49: 81%*Sig
Women 50-59: 81%*Sig
Women 60-79: 81%*Sig
Women 70-74: 80%*Sig
Danish Breast Cancer Cooperative Group 
Grade I, II or III
Truong et al. 
Grade I, II, or III
San Antonio Data Base [6,7]
Crowe et al. 
Stage I or II
Tumor smaller than 4 cm
Winstanley et al. 
Crowe et al. 
Sig = Statistically significant difference in survivalNS = No statistically significant difference in survival
cm = centimeter * Rates are for breast cancer-specific survival (death due to breast cancer), not overall survival (death due to any cause).
† For the 3,591 women for whom 10-year survival data were available, 10-year survival was 68% among those with ER+ tumors and 57% among those with ER- tumors. References
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