Death Rates from Invasive Breast Cancer Fall

“From 1973 to 2010 in the U.S., large reductions in breast cancer-specific death hazards were experienced in women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, a comprehensive analysis of breast cancer survival data now shows.

“Although overall age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rates were stable initially, they decreased by almost one-third, from 33.5% in 1988 to 23.5% in 2010, reported Mitchell Gail, MD, PhD, senior investigator, biostatistics branch, division of cancer epidemiology and genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md., and colleagues online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Improvements were evident in women younger than age 70 years with distant stage at time of diagnosis, as well as in those with local and regional disease. Tumor size usually accounted for more of the improvement in the first 5 years after diagnosis rather than later on, the researchers said.

” ‘Breast cancer mortality rates following diagnosis have been decreasing over four decades, not only in the first five years after diagnosis but thereafter,’ Gail told MedPage Today. ‘Little of the improvement could be explained by changes in tumor size or estrogen-receptor (ER) status over time in women under age 70. This suggests a major contribution from treatment for these women.’ “