Small but significant excess mortality compared with the general population for long-term survivors of breast cancer in the Netherlands

M.L.G. Janssen-Heijnen*, L.N. van Steenbergen, A.C. Voogd, V.C.G. Tjan-Heijnen, P.H. Nijhuis, P.M. Poortmans, J.W.W. Coebergh, D.J. van Spronsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Coinciding with the relatively good and improving prognosis for patients with stage I-III breast cancer, late recurrences, new primary tumours and late side-effects of treatment may occur. We gained insight into prognosis for long-term breast cancer survivors.

Patients and methods: Data on all 205 827 females aged 15-89 diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer during 1989-2008 were derived from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Conditional 5-year relative survival was calculated for every subsequent year from diagnosis up to 15 years.

Results: For stage I, conditional 5-year relative survival remained similar to 95% up to 15 years after diagnosis (a stable 5-year excess mortality rate of 5%). For stage II, excess mortality remained 10% for those aged 15-44 or 45-59 and 15% for those aged 60-74. For stage III, excess mortality decreased from 35% at diagnosis to 10% at 15 years for those aged 15-44 or 45-59, and from similar to 40% to 30% for those aged >= 60.

Conclusions: Patients with stage I or II breast cancer had a (very) good long-term prognosis, albeit exhibiting a small but significant excess mortality at least up to 15 years after diagnosis. Improvements albeit from a lower level were mainly seen for patients who had been diagnosed with stage III disease. Caregivers can use this information to better inform (especially disease-free) cancer survivors about their actual prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • conditional survival
  • breast cancer
  • long-term survivors
  • excess mortality
  • late side-effects
  • TIME

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