Stage 4 Breast Cancer Life Expectancy

Breast cancers are assigned to 1 of 4 stages at the time of initial diagnosis and treatment. Stage is determined by the size of the cancer and whether it has spread to lymph nodes under the arm or to more distant parts of the body. Stage 4 breast cancer has spread to distant organs or sites, such as the lungs, liver, brain or bones.

Treatment may increase life expectancy in stage 4 breast cancer. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

5-Year Survival and Average Length of Life in Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Among all women with stage 4 breast cancer, approximately 20 percent will be alive 5 years after diagnosis, according to data collected by the National Cancer Institute. Approximately 50 percent of women with stage 4 breast cancer are alive 18 months after diagnosis.

Factors That Affect Life Expectancy

Life expectancy in stage 4 breast cancer is improving slowly but steadily. Combination treatment with surgery, radiation, multiple medications and better supportive care have made positive contributions. In the 30 years ending in 2000, 1-year survival, 3-year survival and average length of life improved approximately 30 percent in women with stage 4 breast cancer. Data published in January 2004 in the journal "Cancer" from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center support these findings, as does an August 2004 report published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology from 3 breast cancer centers in France. Most of the improvements were observed in non-Hispanic white women; African-American women experienced little or no improvement in survival. Other factors that decrease life expectancy include poor access to health care, intolerance of chemotherapy drugs, obesity and cancers that are not sensitive to estrogen and progesterone.

Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.