magic 5 yrs

hi please could someone explain y 5 years is magic, if we survive this. i thought if have tumor removed its gone. is it likely to come back or appear somewhere else in that 5 years which makes survival rate go down… i am not explaining myself very well. its just i got upset reading about survival rate after 5 years. and its got me wondering. i want to live longer than that like everyone else. i am 49 and have a lovely one year old grandson i need to see grow up…

Hi Jal7777,

As I understand this, yes a tumour may have been removed, but unfortunatley sometimes before it was removed a rouge cell may have travelled through the body and settled somewhere else. With BC it can be lungs liver,bones or brain.

This rougue cell MAY not WILL ,form another cancer. This will be a recurrance, the mets you asked about.

In addittion a local recuurance can occur. Both recurrence can be treated. The 5 years suggests that if you haven’t had a recurrence in that time you are seen as cured by the treatment you received.

I hope I have given you some idea. You will probably read lots on your journey through this, remember statistics can frighten, you’re a person and to quote Dr Terry Priestman:
'So try to think about the people you love, the things you enjoy, the positives that make life worthwhile for you, and put these at the front of your mind as the reasons for winning your way through and seeing a new tomorrow and countless more after that. (Coping With Breast Cancer p 66).

Take care

Even though you have had the tumour removed, it is possible that there are microscopic cancer cells still in your body which can’t be detected, and which will at some point attach themselves somewhere else and grow, causing secondary cancer. All the treatments following on from surgery are designed to try to stop this happening, but there are no guarantees.

I think five year survival rates are always quoted because with most other cancers, if you have not had a reccurrence within five years you are supposed to be cured. That is not the case with BC as it can come back after five years, but the risk of reccuurence is much lower once you have survived the five years.

Hiya Jal
We can get ourselves into a right tizz reading about survival rates. After 5 years you go back on to the national screening programme and they are happier generally if you’ve had no problems in that time! If you get a recurrence it is more likely to happen within that time although can happen later on too. I’ve gone past the worry about 5 year stats now. I’m 40 and want to see my children grow up! Its not a 5 year time bomb, so try not to worry too much
love Julie X

Hi Jal

For the vast majority of ladies who have primary breast cancer their cancer will not spread and I think it’s about enjoying your life and once you’ve got your surgery and follow up treatment out of the way it’s the beginning of starting to get back on track and go forward from this.

There are currently no statistics on how many women go on to develop secondaries (which is different from local recurrence) and until that happens figures will be bandied about. Breast Cancer Care are also raising the issue of secondary ladies having access to a dedicated specialist nurse and we had the first ever campaign for secondary breast cancer in London last Wednesday.

I think the 5 year word is because that is and has normally been the time when you are discharged from the hospital and seen as a marker. I don’t really like the word ‘cured’ as there is currently no cure for breast cancer and feel that remission is a more realistic word. I know quite a few ladies in our support group who are 17+ years down the road.

However, one thing I do know is that with the improvement of treatments and new drugs becoming available, certainly within the last 7 or so years, we are all living longer, even those of us who have secondaries.

Enjoy your life and try not to let it take over - hopefully you’ll live to a grand old age and wouldn’t all these years be a waste if you look back on them and realised you lived them in fear. If, and I really mean if, it does come back then that is the time to address not worry about the possibility of it coming back.

Enjoy your grandson!!

Love Pinkdove

Hi all
Once again you ladies have been really helpful. I feel a lot better again. I am waiting for a date for my mastectomy and immediate reconstruction (another scary thing) so at moment just plodding along and now much quicker with all your help. Thank you Thank you Thank you and i must say i love the quote carol .

Hi Jal777,

Dr Priestman book has become my bible, its plain language, realistic and for a man he is incredibly in tune with how we feel. I feel his book should be handed out at every diagnosis.

Good luck with the mastectomy ( What a weird thing to be saying) give your self time to relax and recover after it even though your mind will be back on form pretty quickly.


Hi Jal

Sometimes the 5 & 10 years statistics are because that is the only period they are covered over, not because that is how long you are going to live…nothing is set in stone.