Here’s a good news/better new flash: women with early stage breast cancer remain at low risk of recurrence years after treatment. That’s good. Better is that women with hormone negative cancers face a much smaller risk of later recurrence than those with hormone positive. This, despite the fact that hormone negative is considered to be more lethal than positive.

The study, by researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, included 2,838 women with stage I, II, or III breast cancer between 1985 and 2001. Five years after beginning therapy—chemotherapy, radiation, tamoxifen or all three—those with hormone negative disease faced a seven percent chance of recurrence, while those with hormone positive had a 13 percent chance.

The really good news: 89 percent of all patients had no recurrences within 10 years; 80 percent had no recurrences after 15 years. Within five years, those with stage I cancer had a 7 percent risk of recurrence; stage II faced an 11 percent risk; and stage III faced a 13 percent risk.

The research was published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on August 11, 2008. Because HER2 was not routinely measured at the time and Herceptin and aromotase inhibitors had not been introduced, they were not included in the data. Until 2000, tamoxifen was the only drug for follow-up breast cancer care, and it was limited to women with hormone positive disease.

Researchers say that, while the numbers are small, the fact that cancer can recur years after therapy points to a need for more follow-up care. An interesting conundrum, considering the fact that women with hormone negative cancer faced a lower rate of late recurrence than women with hormone positive disease. That is, women for whom there never has been a long-term drug treatment option did better than women with the drug.

The study does point to continued need for regular follow-up exams and mammograms. I would also emphasize the importance of focusing on a low-fat, healthy diet with plenty of exercise, which have been proven to lower the risk of recurrence of hormone negative breast cancer.

6 thoughts on “Risk of Late Recurrence Lower for Hormone Negative

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kim: I just became a grandmother this summer and it is, indeed, a reason for living. Good luck on the healthy regimen. As I said in the email, feel free to use me as a coach, if you need. Take care. You are in my prayers. Pat

  2. Anonymous says:

    Pat, I just found your sight, and also sent you an email which you were kind enough to answer. I have found HOPE reading your blog and enough fuel for my determination to lose weight and incorperate a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for the time and effort you have given to this sight so that women like myself can understand triple Negative!I also just found out today Im going to be a GRANDMOTHER. I believe thats just the kick I needed to do this!! Kim BIndianapolis In.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There’s a good deal of research on inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), with some of it on the receptor status. A recent study published in the February 2009 journal Breast Cancer Research ( demonstrated that IBC cases are most likely to be HER2-positive and hormone-receptor-negative. So, it is not so likely to be triple negative. This study was fairly extensive—analyzing 80,099 breast cancer patients in the California Cancer Registry who were treated from 1999 to 2003, and followed through 2007.You’ll find a list of research studies on IBC at

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi PatI am wondering if you have information about anyone who has been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and also identified as being triple negative? I sure know how to pick’em!Thanks,Sharon

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for your kind words, although I am sorry you found my site after a recurrence. It can be overwhelming–HR- cancer does not follow the rules we expect. I went through what you are dealing with and that is one reason I started this blog–it should not be so difficult to get good information, especially when you are dealing with the stress of a diagnosis. HR+ cancers can return as HR-, so your situation is not all that unusual. And the research has increased on HR-, so we have a lot more information on our side, and a lot more hope. Feel free to contact me anytime. Pat

  6. Anonymous says:

    hello pat. super website. you have distilled the er/pr- breast cancer to it’s essence. i will be book marking your site for future reference.i’m a 5 year survivor from er/pr + IIA BC. just diagnosed with er/pr- and going in for a mastectomy in a week or so followed by my “true” pathology reporting. not being familiar with the hormone negative breast cancer and a tad overwhelmed with reading medical studies, i’m elated at the efficiency of your blog. thanks!best to you!

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