Can You Be Completely Cured of Breast Cancer?
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the first things you’re likely to want to know is what your chances for being completely cured are. While you should know that there is no such thing as a total “cure,” it is possible to get statistically close enough to ease many of your worries.
It is important to remember that significant advances have been made in the past few years, and a cancer diagnosis, especially if it is stage 1, doesn’t mean what it used to. The chances for survival are much better than they used to be.
To understand statistics about survival, you have to realize that cancer survival rates are determined by population-size statistics, and so they are only vaguely relevant to your specific case. Your doctor will be able to talk you through this regarding your personal situation.
Several types of statistics may be used to estimate survival:
- Cancer-specific survival is the percentage of people with a specific type and stage of cancer who have not died due to their cancer. The period of time may be from 1 to 5 years, with 5 years being the most often used.
- Relative survival is the rate of survival of cancer patients vs. the population at large.
- Overall survival is the percentage of people with a specific type and stage of cancer who have not died from any cause at all during a given period.
- Disease-free survival is the percentage of patients who survive without cancer symptoms for a certain amount of time, usually 1-5 years.
If you survive symptom-free for five years, doctors may consider that to be the “gold standard” and say that you have a cure. Just remember that even if you have had most of your cancer cells removed, it is impossible to know whether every cell has been removed, and it is important to continue checking in with your doctor.