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Breast Cancer Survival on the Rise

Conquest - Spring 2011

In a single-institution study, Aman Buzdar, 
M.D., found that survival rates for breast 
cancer patients increased significantly over 
the past six decades. 
Photo: Wyatt McSpadden

Higher rates at every stage of the disease

A review of 60 years of MD Anderson patient records shows dramatic improvement in breast cancer’s survival rates.

Many research milestones have had an impact, including:

  • advances in screening for disease detection,
  • better surgical techniques available to more women,
  • an increased number of therapies that reduce the risk of relapse,
  • combined modality approaches to treatment of the disease,
  • use of systemic therapies prior to surgery,
  • refinement of chemotherapies, specifically the incorporation of anthracyclines, taxanes and biologics, and
  • newer hormonal agents like aromatase inhibitors.

For this retrospective, single-institution study, Aman Buzdar, M.D., professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Breast Medical Oncology, and his team reviewed records of 56,864 breast cancer patients seen at the institution between 1944 and 2004.

Looking at five- and 10-year survival by stage (local, regional and distant, or metastatic), they found an impressive increase in survival in all three stages, as well as overall.

“In the first decade we tracked, 1944-1954, the 10-year survival of women with metastatic breast cancer was just 3.3%. However, between the decades of 1985-1994 and 1995-2004, the survival gain in the same cohort increased from 11.2% to 22.2%, respectively,” Buzdar says.

“Now we need to turn our attention to the refinement of breast cancer therapies, to further decrease risk of recurrence and death for our high-risk, early-stage breast cancer patients, and maintain disease control in those with metastatic disease.”

Reported in September 2010 in advance of the 2010 Breast Cancer Symposium.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center