Oncologist Questions Breast Cancer

My mother is 72 years with a history of breast cancer. What are the chances of her getting the disease again?

My mother was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer at the age of 54 years. She had a mastectomy. What are her chances of getting a relapse of cancer at the age of 72?

4 Answers


Your mother had breast cancer treated with surgery about 18 years ago. She should be cured for the primary for which she was treated. It is important, though, to continue to obtain annual check ups from her physician. The chance of a recurrence at this time is small, but depends on her stage of disease and her molecular markers. Every patient is different and the chances of a new primary and/or recurrence depends on her overall characteristics and the stage of the cancer at the time of first diagnosis.
If your mother's cancer was all contained in the removed breast and she has been disease free for the past 18 years it is unlikely. However, surveillance is necessary as we grow older and she should be seen by her Oncologist or Primary Care Physician as often as advised.
Difficult to calculate without additional information. If she was hormone positive, then there remains a (low) risk of relapse forever. Hormone-positive breast cancer has a consistent late relapse rate. If she had hormone-negative disease, then the likelihood or relapse is nil.
The risk of another breast cancer when diagnosed is 0.25% per year for life, so around 7%-10% in her lifetime!