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-positive) tumors) can be treated with hormone therapies like tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.
Estrogen receptor status is also a prognostic factor. ER-positive tumors tend to be linked to better survival than tumors with few or no estrogen receptors (estrogen receptor-negative (ER-negative) tumors).
As the studies below show, five-year survival is about 10 percent better for women with ER-positive breast cancer than for those with ER-negative tumors. However, after five years, this survival difference begins to decrease and over time may even disappear [1-2]. As ER-negative breast cancers tend to recur earlier than ER-positive cancers, survival at 10 years after diagnosis may not differ [1-2].
Learn more about estrogen receptor status.
HER2/neu status is another prognostic factor for breast cancer. Tumors with a lot of HER2/neu protein (HER2-positive) tend to be ER-negative. For these reasons, studies of estrogen receptor status should take into account HER2/neu status.
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% for those with ER-positive tumors and 57% for those with ER-negative tumors.
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