National Breast Cancer Coalition

Myth #20: With new treatments we can now cure breast cancer

FALSE. We still do not know how to cure breast cancer. We do have more treatment options and more targeted therapy, but we don't understand the disease well enough to know for certain which cancers will come back and/or spread, and which cancers will not.

Many breast cancer survivors are now celebrating 10, 20, 30 or more years of being "cancer-free," which is certainly a cause for celebration. Breast cancer mortality rates have actually decreased 27 percent from 1990 to 2005. Although no one knows the exact cause of the decrease, many attribute it to the introduction of better treatments.

But until we better understand the biology and progression of the disease, being “cancer-free” is not the same thing as being cured. And we cannot tell any individual woman at the end of her treatment that she is “cured.” We just do not know. It’s hard to look at the disease in this way—it seems pessimistic. But creating a false sense that we already have a “cure” is simply misleading. 

If you don’t like this current truth, take action to change it. Learn more about important grassroots advocacy work that makes strides toward creating a future without breast cancer.