Cure or Remission?

I’ve almost finished reading Jennifer Saunder’s autobiography - “Bonkers”. A good, fun read from a truly likeable comedienne. However, on page 255, I quote:


    "I made a statement via Maureen that just said I had caught it (breast cancer) early and now it was gone. Suprisingly, I got lots of correspondence from people telling me it was a reckless statement and that cancer is never gone. That I was only in remission and it could come back at any time."


Is that right? I kind of thought it could be removed, treated, blasted and anastrozoled away as a permanent cure? Granted, nothing is 100% guaranteed but I’d put myself now in the same risk factor as anyone else - whether they’d already had cancer or not. Remission? Nah. Cure - surely?




love Cherry

Hi, for most it probably is “cured” and will never recur, but sorry, the true fact is that BC is very unpredictable and can recur sometimes many years after diagnosis, that’s why the term NED (no evidence of disease) or remission is used. An Ocologist will never (should never) say “you are cured”. Mine said “we are aiming for a cure” and I’m fine 6 years on. I don’t think about it much now but will always be aware. My friends mum had BC at 62  had lumpectomy and radiotherapy and it recurred in the breast 17 years later and she had mastectomy. She’s doing well now and is 85.


All the best xx

Hi Cherry

I was of a similar mind to you on this one, but when I expressed this to my oncologist, his words were: " you’re not cured of breast cancer til you die of something else"

Harsh words indeed and they ring in my ears on days when I am not feeling so perky.

However , I think that StressyMessy is right - we have to keep b*ggering on with a positive heart, having faith in our treatment, as the alternative is a life less lived. Onwards & upwards girls!

I’m two years after primary DX this month and don’t see myself as cured.  I kind of reckon with it coming back (was stage 3B, so fairly likely).  My breast surgeon said he never tells a woman she is “all clear” as it could come back anytime.  My auntie had BC in her mid fourties 25 years ago, got mets 23 years later and died a couple of months ago (aged 69).  That’s the reality we live with.  But then I know a woman who had bc 27 years ago when she was 39 and she is still fine.  So anything is possible.  I have to say thought I wouldn’t think I’m at the same risk of getting cancer as anyone else, my risk is def higher, esp at my age (44).

Hi, well i was told that they will never say we are cured because bc has a nasty habit of coming back,i guess it’s a way of covering themselves…if they were to say we are cured then they would have no leg to stand on if it was to come back again so many years down the line. .At the end of the day I don’t worry about it anymore, all i know is that i am NED and i hope it stays that way…:slight_smile: xx…

My way of viewing it that we have no certainties just probabilities


Some people are indeed cured, but no one know which people are. Some cancers do not come back and some do and the only numbers we have are probabilities.


The only thing we can do is enjoy life and hope for the best.

My onco told me this week that I was a success or early screening and now after surgery and rads I should consider my cancer as Cured!! Was good to hear but i also know she can’t be 100 percent sure of this. They caught it early and got it all out no lymph node involved. On anastrozole for 5 maybe 10 years and ???

Hi Ali,
Like you, I was also a screening success!
My onc also used ‘cured’ when discharging me, but in the context of as much as it could be.
Well, I’ll take that ?
ann x

It’s interesting how there are different words used. When I was first dx June 2016, they approached the treatment plan with “curative intent”. Nobody from my medical team ever jumped up and down and said “yippee you’re cured” (now that would be a sight ?) at the end, but I go on evidence and statistics. 


Everybody’s cancer diagnosis and pathology results are different. No surprise there, as we are all different! My cancer was detected early (self examination) at Stage 1, aggressive at Grade 3 and triple negative so non hormone receptive. I had a complete pathological response to the chemo, and opted for a mastectomy after. They biopsied the removed breast and deemed it as a complete pathological response from this. Statistically my chance of reoccurrence stands at 2%. This is what my team calculate based on their calculations and research concurs with that figure too. My consultant has told me that after the 5 year mark, with my type of cancer, another diagnosis of cancer is classed as a new cancer and not a reoccurrence of the old one. After this period I would compare myself as the same as anybody else, unless I give myself reason not to like I start smoking, drinking excessively etc., which I certainly do not plan on doing! 


So for me, I think it can be a very individual decision of what to label it. I quench the anxiety of reoccurrence with the stats, but I also appreciate life more, celebrate the small wins with the big ones, squeeze my kids tighter and exercise more and make better food choices. The word remission scares me. I don’t use it because I don’t like it, not because I disagree with it. I don’t use “cured” either as I’m not comfortable with that either (I’m sounding indecisive here). I say “I got the all clear in…” Covers a multitude of things for me.


wishing you all continued health and happiness xx