This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables are a useful way to look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, to get the most out of the tables, it’s important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.
Introduction: Tumor size is related to breast cancer recurrence and survival. In most cases, the smaller the tumor, the better the prognosis (chance of survival) tends to be.
Learn more about tumor size.
Learn about tumor size and breast cancer staging.
Study selection criteria: SEER data on tumor size and breast cancer survival by lymph node status (whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area).
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, data from the table below show for women with breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes (lymph node-positive), the 5-year relative survival for women with a tumor smaller than one centimeter is 93 percent. This means these women are, on average, 93 percent as likely as women in the general population to live 5 years beyond their diagnosis.
For women with breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes (lymph node-negative), the 5-year relative survival for women with a tumor smaller than one centimeter is 100 percent. This means these women are, on average, just as likely as women in the general population to live 5 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 1995-1999
5-year relative 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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