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Re: Progression

Hi Heather

Thanks for posting.

Nearly everyone who has been treated for cancer worries about it coming back (recurrence) or wonders about the likelihood of secondary breast cancer.  You’re not alone in being anxious about this.

It’s not clear where you are with your treatment  but the aim of treatment for primary breast cancer is to remove all the cancer and reduce the risk of it coming back in the future.  It’s difficult for us to say what may happen with your breast cancer  or to know what percentage of people are likely to progress to secondary breast cancer.  This data is not currently available in all hospitals. Your own treatment team will be able to tell you if they have this information.  

However, each person’s risk of cancer coming back is different. It depends on a number of factors including the type, grade, size, and stage, of the cancer, as well as a person’s overall health.  Your treatment team are in the best position to talk to you about this as they have the details about your individual situation.  In order to be as clear as possible, your treatment team are more likely to talk about your chances of survival over time or the possibility of you remaining free of cancer in the future.

Some people find it helpful to have statistical information, but statistics are averages based on large numbers of people. They can’t predict exactly what will happen to you.  Your treatment team may use an online program such as NHS Predict , which is an online decision-making tool. It uses information about you and your breast cancer to estimate how different treatments after surgery for early invasive breast cancer might improve survival.  Your treatment team may show you this information on a graph and it’s important they explain exactly what the figures mean for you.  If you have a breast care nurse you can ask her about this.

Do remember that treatment for breast cancer will be successful for most people, and the risk of recurrence gets less as time goes on.

We offer a range of free supportive services that you might be interested in. For more details about all of these services, please see the information on the link.

Do call our Helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks.

The number is 0808 800 6000 (Text relay prefix 18001).

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

Best wishes


Breast Cancer Now Nurse

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I have been diagnosed with primary BC. So far no lymph node involved. I have been reading about secondary BC ( probably have enough on my plate) and am wondering how many people (percentage) with a diagnosis like mine progress to secondary BC? Thanks Heather