If you’ve been diagnosed with hormone negative breast cancer, your doctor may have frightened you with the terms aggressive or lethal. Yes, this cancer is more on the march than estrogen positive, but it is survivable—and most women do survive it. That fact too often gets lost in research reports.
63 percent of women with triple-negative status survive progression-free for three years, compared to 76 percent of hormone-positive women. That’s a lower number, but it still means most women survive. This comes from research in the International Journal of Cancer.
Women with hormone negative had a lower risk of recurrence at five years than hormone positive, according to research at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. 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. Or looking at it another way, 93 percent of those with hormone negative survived after five years while 87 percent of those with hormone positive did.
Docs say that, because more hormone-negative cases relapse within the first three years, women with this disease who are disease-free at five years have especially good odds. And at five years post-diagnosis, they have a better prognosis than women with the less lethal form of cancer.
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Source: Brewster AM, Hortobagyi GN, Broglio KR, Kau SW, Santa-Maria CA, Arun B, Buzdar AU, Booser DJ, Valero V, Bondy M, Esteva FJ. “Residual risk of breast cancer recurrence 5 years after adjuvant therapy,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 100(16):1179-83. 2008.