Understanding Recurrence

Breast cancer is not a 5-year disease

Risk of recurrence continues beyond 5 years for some women

Because ER+ breast cancer is not a 5 year disease, and there is a risk of the cancer returning, your doctor may recommend continuing therapy for a full 10 years to help reduce that risk. Understanding your personal risk of the cancer returning will help you and your doctor create the best treatment plan for you beyond 5 years.

What is breast cancer recurrence?

When breast cancer comes back after the initial treatment, it is called recurrence. Even though the goal of the initial treatment is to eliminate all cancer cells, it is possible that a few cancer cells have evaded the treatment and survived. These cancer cells are undetected and end up multiplying and return to become recurrent breast cancer.

Breast cancer recurrence may happen within months or even years after the initial treatment. If the cancer comes back in the same place as the original cancer, this is called “local recurrence.” Alternatively, the cancer may spread to other areas of the body, which is called “distant recurrence” (also referred to as metastatic breast cancer).

Is there risk of your breast cancer coming back?

It has been shown that there is still risk of breast cancer coming back even if it has been many years since initial treatment to reduce that risk.

When breast cancer comes back within 5 years of the initial diagnosis, this is known as “early recurrence.” When breast cancer comes back more than 5 years after the initial diagnosis, this is called a “late recurrence.”

For early-stage estrogen receptor-positive (ER+), node negative (LN-) breast cancer patients, approximately 20% of women will experience a distant recurrence, dependent on factors such as tumor size and grade.14 For those who do experience a recurrence, over 1/2 of the time, this will take place more than 5 years after diagnosis (late recurrence).15,16

How can you and your physician better understand your risk beyond year 5?

Each patient’s breast cancer is unique and has its own biological factors that determine the potential for recurrence. Breast Cancer Index is a test for early-stage, ER+ breast cancer that looks at the biology of your tumor to determine your individual risk of recurrence, and based on this percentage, tell you whether you are considered at high risk or low risk of recurrence after year 5.

Understanding your individual risk of recurrence will help you and your doctor make the best decision for your treatment plan after year 5.

Learn more about how Breast Cancer Index can help you and your doctor determine your individual risk of recurrence