More than one in five breast cancer patients (22.6%) will have recurrence of the disease, according to research published today.
A groundbreaking study from Macmillan Cancer Support puts a number - for the first time - on how many breast cancer patients may see the condition return.
A spokeswoman for the charity said that before this research, data was only available on diagnosis and survival of breast cancer.
The preliminary results also showed that half of those patients (51%) who developed recurrent disease lived for more than three years disease-free, and on average survived for at least one year after their recurrence, with some surviving (5%) at least 10 years.
The research is to be presented at the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference in Birmingham from June 14 to June 16.
Jane Maher, chief medical officer of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Not only do these women have to deal with the shock of their breast cancer returning, but also far too many are given very little practical or emotional support, the assumption being they know what to expect from the first time they were treated.
“It is therefore essential that health professionals identify breast cancer recurrence early and take heed of this emerging evidence to better prepare breast cancer patients to help mitigate or cope with a recurrent disease.”