HealthDay News — The number of U.S. women living with metastatic breast cancer has been rising since the 1990s, according to a study published online May 18 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The figures come from a U.S. surveillance system that tracks breast cancer mortality and survival. The researchers estimate that 154,794 U.S. women are living with metastatic breast cancer, up from 105,354 in 1990.

In the early 1990s, women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer before age 50 typically lived for 22.3 months. By 2012, that had increased to 38.7 months, the investigators found. There was a similar pattern among women diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 64: Their typical survival rose from 19.1 months in the early 1990s to 29.7 months in 2012. More women are also surviving for prolonged periods. Among women diagnosed before age 50, the five-year survival rate doubled between 1992 and 2012 — from 18 to 36%. 

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“The increasing burden of metastatic breast cancer highlights the importance of documenting recurrence to foster more research into the specific needs of this understudied population,” the authors write.

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