More than one in five breast cancer patients sees the disease return, a new study has found.
Macmillan Cancer Support concluded that 22.6 per cent of patients will suffer a recurrence. The charity examined the cases of just under 1,000 patients treated from January 1999 onwards.
Half of the patients who developed recurrent disease did not get any new tumours for more than three years, according to the researchers from St James's Institute of Oncology in Leeds.
The co-author of the study, Dr Adam Glaser, said the results were "invaluable". He explained: "The aim of this study is to begin to understand more about how long people may survive without recurrence, how long they may survive if cancer does return, the cost of each stage of cancer treatment, and how we can best plan services for cancer patients."
Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: "Not only do these women have to deal with the shock of their breast cancer returning, but far too many are given very little practical or emotional support."
The full findings will be presented at the National Cancer Intelligence Network conference in Birmingham later this week.