Why Do We Measure Breast Cancer Survival?
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare keeps track of survival rates for all cancers in Australia. The survival rate is a way of measuring how many people are alive at a certain time after a diagnosis. For example, an 85% survival rate at five years means that five years after the diagnosis of breast cancer, 85% (or 85 out of every 100) patients are alive. It is a common way of understanding and comparing the outcomes for people with a range of different health conditions.
The chance of surviving breast cancer five years from diagnosis has increased from 73% to 91% in the last 20 years in Australia, thanks in large part to clinical trials research. The uptake in breast cancer screening has also contributed to this increase, with screening allowing for breast cancers to be found earlier.
But this overall number changes dramatically depending on what stage of breast cancer you are diagnosed with.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released its latest data on five-year survival rates.
It shows that those diagnosed with stage one breast cancer have a 100% five-year survival rate whereas those diagnosed at stage four have a 32% five-year survival rate.
Why Is There A Difference In Survival Rates?
There are a number of reasons why the survival rate decreases from stage one to stage four. When breast cancer metastasises, or reaches stage four, it has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body which makes it more difficult to treat. In some cases, this is because it has already been exposed to therapeutic drugs and has acquired a resistance to them. You can learn more about metastatic breast cancer here.
The data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that age had little impact upon survival rates for early breast cancer. Females diagnosed with early stage (stage one and two) breast cancer had similar survival rates across all ages. However, females diagnosed with advanced cancer had lower survival with increasing age.
The data also showed that your postcode has little impact upon your survival, with survivors generally similar by remoteness and socioeconomic status area.
How Is Breast Cancer Trials Research helping To Improve Survival Rates?
Breast Cancer Trials is actively working to increase survival rates across all breast cancers. Breast Cancer Trials currently has three clinical trials open to patients with early breast cancer, The Breast MRI Evaluation Study, EXPERT and Neo-N, two clinical trials open to those with metastatic breast cancer, DIAmOND and CAPTURE and one clinical trial open for the prevention of breast cancer; BRCA-P.
You can learn more about the Breast Cancer Trials research program here.
You can learn more about understanding breast cancer statistics and survival rates here.
You can learn more about breast cancer prevention and how to reduce your risk here.
If you would like to read further about this data from The Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, you can visit their site here.