Susan G Komen  
I've Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Someone I Know Was Diagnosed Share Your Story Join Us And Stay Informed Donate To End Breast Cancer
Home > Understanding Breast Cancer > Breast Cancer Research > Table 33: Lymph node status and breast cancer survival

  


Table 33: Lymph node status and breast cancer survival

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: Lymph node status is one of the most important predictors of 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 women with cancer-free lymph nodes have a better survival than women with cancerous nodes. As the number of cancerous nodes increases, survival decreases.  

Study selection criteria: Most recent SEER data on lymph node status and breast cancer survival.  

Table note: Relative survival compares survival rates between women with breast cancer to women in the general population over a certain period of time. For example, the five-year relative survival for women with negative lymph nodes is 99 percent. This means that women with negative lymph nodes are, on average, 99 percent as likely as women in the general population to live five 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 Findings
302,763 women with breast cancer 

Lymph node status 

Five-year relative breast cancer survival 

Negative lymph nodes

99%

1-3 positive lymph nodes

87%

4 or more positive lymph nodes

66%

Unknown number of positive lymph nodes

81%

References 

1. Ries LAG and Eisner MP. Chapter 13-Cancer of the female breast. In: Ries LAG, Young JL, Keel GE, Eisner MP, Lin YD, Horner M-J (editors). SEER Survival Monograph: Cancer survival among adults: U.S. SEER Program, 1988-2001, patient and tumor characteristics. National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, NIH Pub. No. 07-6215, Bethesda, MD, 2007.

Updated 09/04/13