Breast Cancer: Side Effects


New and improved treatments are helping persons with breast cancer live longer than ever before. However, even with treatment breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes cancer returns even after the entire tumor is removed and nearby lymph nodes are found to be cancer-free.

You may suffer side effects or experience complications from cancer treatment. For example, radiation therapy may cause temporary swelling, redness and peeling of the breast, and aches and pains around the area. Ask your doctor about the side effects you may have during treatment.

How well you do after being treated for breast cancer depends on many things. The more advanced your cancer, the poorer the outcome.

Five-year survival rates refer to the number of patients who live at least five years after their cancer is found. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the five-year survival rates for persons with breast cancer that is appropriately treated are as follows:

  • 100% for stage 0
  • 100% for stage I
  • 92% for stage IIA
  • 81% for stage IIB
  • 67% for stage IIIA
  • 54% for stage IIIB
  • 20% for stage IV