Life expectancy after curative-intent treatment of breast cancer: Impact on long-term follow-up care

Amanda K. Arrington, Leanne Goldstein, Laura Kruper, Courtney Vito, John Yim, Steven L. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Long-term survival rates after treatment for breast cancer are directly influenced by early deaths resulting from disease. For longer-term breast cancer survivors, survival rates appear deceptively low. We hypothesize that the actual survival curve for long-term survivors approaches the overall survival of the general population. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database (1988 to 2002) was used to identify patients with nonmetastatic breast cancer who underwent definitive surgical treatment. The survival of the general population was constructed by using national life tables with an age-matched population. Comparisons of survivals were made for 3-, 5-, and 7-year breast cancer survivor cohorts. Of 237,180 patients, 92.4 per cent survived three years, 82.1 per cent five years, and 58.1 per cent seven years. Stage I patients have equivalent or better survivals compared with the age-matched general population in all three cohorts. Stage II patients reached equivalent conditional survival between eight and nine years after diagnosis regardless of cohort. Stage III patients required achieving nine to 10 years after diagnosis to achieve equivalent survival probability, except in 7-year survivors, in whom 10 to 11 years was required. In all stages, once equivalence was reached, survival exceeded the general population over the remaining years. Initial cancer stage influences overall survival for many years after diagnosis. Patients with Stage I cancer return to the general population risk as early as three years after diagnosis, whereas higher stages can require up to nine years to achieve parity with a more generalized population. These findings should be factored into general health screening issues for long-term breast cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-609
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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