Understanding your results

You may hear the word 'prognosis' and it means the likely outlook or outcome for your cancer, whether it can be cured and your life expectancy. Some medical teams will discuss prognosis but other specialists do not do this routinely.

How much information you want about your prognosis is up to you. Some people want to know everything, others not so much. Remember that every case is unique so what happened to one woman may not necessarily happen to you.

A prognosis is based upon clinical research done over long periods of time, involving thousands of patients and their treatments. A prognosis is often described with the words 'excellent, good, poor' or numbers such as 'five or ten-year survival' which is a 'best guess' based upon research of how many people are likely to be alive five and ten years post diagnosis.

A number of factors affect your prognosis including the grade and size of the breast cancer , whether your lymph nodes have been affected, whether your cancer is HER2 positive, and what type of breast cancer you have  .

Having a good prognosis can be encouraging and hopeful but if your prognosis is not so good, this can be difficult news to process. However, people with secondary breast cancer, where the cancer has spread from the primary breast site to vital organs or bones, can live for a long time. There have been some amazing advances in treatment aimed at prolonging life for those with stage 4 or advanced breast cancer.