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: Estrogen receptor status helps guide breast cancer treatment.
ER-positive breast cancers can be treated with hormone therapies such as tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors and ovarian suppression.
People with ER-positive tumors tend to have better survival than those with ER-negative tumors.
As the studies below show, 5-year survival after diagnosis is about 10 percent better for women with ER-positive breast cancer than for those with ER-negative tumors.
However, after about 5 years, this survival difference begins to decrease and over time, goes away [1-2]. ER-negative breast cancers tend to come back (recur) earlier than ER-positive cancers, so 10-year survival may not differ [1-2].
Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies.
Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studies with at least 1,500 participants and at least 5 years of follow-up.
Table note: HER2 status shows whether or not a tumor has a lot of HER2 protein. It’s related to breast cancer prognosis. HER2-positive tumors have a lot of HER2 protein.
HER2-positive tumors tend to be ER-negative. So, studies of estrogen receptor status should account for HER2 status.
Study Population(number of participants)
Characteristics of Breast Cancer
5-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]
Sopik et al. 
Stage I, II or II*
Sig = Statistically significant difference in survivalNS = No statistically significant difference in survival
cm = centimeter * Breast cancer stage as classified before 2018.
† Rates are for breast cancer survival (death from breast cancer), not overall survival (death from 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.
§ Rates are estimated from a figure. Breast cancer survival at 15 years was 77% for women with ER-positive tumors and 70% for women with ER-negative tumors.
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