Breast Cancer

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Winning the Battle Against Breast Cancer

If you are seeking treatment for breast cancer, you probably already know how widespread it is among women. 

Statistics Are Abstract; Lives Aren’t

Michelle Fusman, Breast Cancer Survivor Michelle Fusman was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer at age 34. Six years later Michelle is running two very successful salons in Seattle. Read more about Michelle.

The good news is that breast cancer is a highly curable disease if detected and treated early. Where you choose to go for initial treatment also has a significant impact on your likelihood of survival. As you can see below, breast cancer patients treated by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) have high survival rates compared to other treatment centers.

Breast Cancer Survival Rates

Below are five-year survival rates for breast cancer patients treated by SCCA compared to patients who were treated for breast cancer elsewhere. This information was collected by the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) for patients who were diagnosed and treated between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years.

Stage 0 Breast Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 98 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their combined five-year survival rate was 96 percent.
  • Note: While the SCCA survival rates appear to be better for stage 0 breast cancer, the data could not be statistically validated.

Stage I Breast Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 95 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their five-year survival rate was 92 percent.
  • Note: While the SCCA survival rates appear to be better for stage I breast cancer, the data could not be statistically validated.

Stage II Breast Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 92 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their combined five-year survival rate was 85 percent.

Stage III Breast Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 82 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their combined five-year survival rate was 67 percent.

Stage IV Breast Cancer

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 40 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their combined five-year survival rate was 21 percent.

The charts above include patients who were diagnosed between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years. The five-year observed survival rates are estimated using the actuarial method with one-month intervals. The endpoint is death from any cause (not cancer specific death); patients may have died from causes unrelated to their cancer. Calculations were performed using the NCDB Survival Reports software tool. Survival rates are not displayed when fewer than 30 cases are available, as survival rates calculated from small numbers of cases can yield misleading results and may have very wide confidence intervals.

The outcomes presented in the figures are not risk-adjusted. That is, the NCDB did not account for demographic differences (e.g., age at diagnosis, gender, socioeconomic status, and insurance status), prognostic factors, and comorbidities for SCCA and other hospitals. Also, the NCDB did not account for subjective differences in staging practices among hospitals. For example, it is possible that a cancer considered stage I at one hospital might be considered stage II at another hospital due to practice pattern variations. The outcomes comparisons presented here might have differed if the NCDB had accounted for such demographic and staging differences in our analyses.

The NCDB tracks the outcomes of 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer in the United States from more than 1,500 commission-accredited cancer programs. It has been collecting data from hospital cancer registries since 1989 and now has almost 29 million records. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Data Collection Methodology