Study finds: Breast cancer can return 15 years after treatment ends.

A UK study has found that Breast cancer can resurface after remaining dormant for 15 years following successful treatment.

Women with large tumours and cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes had the highest 40% risk of it coming back.

Researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine has written that extending treatment with hormone therapy could reduce the risk of it recurring.Scientists analysed the progress of 63,000 women for 20 years.

Although after 5 years of treatment their cancers had gone, over the next 15 years a steady number of women found that their cancer spread throughout their body, some up to 20 years after diagnosis.

Lead researcher Dr Hongchao Pan, from University of Oxford, said: “It is remarkable that breast cancer can remain dormant for so long and then spread many years later, with this risk remaining the same year after year and still strongly related to the size of the original cancer and whether it had spread to the (lymph) nodes.”

Recent research has suggested that extending hormone therapy to 10 years may be more effective at preventing breast cancer recurrence and death.

But there are side effects with hormone treatments which can affect patients’ quality of life and cause them to stop taking the pills.

These include menopausal symptoms, osteporosis, joint pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.