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How is Prognosis Determined?

The probable course and/or outcome of your cancer is called the prognosis. Identifying factors that indicate a better or worse prognosis may help you and your physician plan your treatment. There are many factors that help determine your prognosis. Some of these include:

  • Your age
  • Your level of physical fitness
  • Size of your cancer
  • Stage of your cancer
  • Aggressiveness of your cancer (cancer cells that are growing and dividing rapidly are considered more aggressive)

Your physician will evaluate all possible factors to determine your prognosis. It is important for you to notice that prognosis means only the probable outcome. This means that based on a sample of people with your type of cancer, on average, this was their outcome. This does not mean that you will have the exact same outcome.

Remember, your cancer is as unique as you are.

You need to carefully examine your feelings about knowing the statistical probability of the outcome for your cancer. If you decide to find out the numbers, please keep in mind that they are just numbers based on other people. You may find it useful information to have in helping you make treatment decisions. Then again, you may not want to know. Whether you know or don’t know—it is your choice to make. It is very important to discuss this topic with your TCI care team.


Cancer detection is not the same as a cancer diagnosis. A cancer diagnosis involves many steps that lead to the diagnosis of a specific type of cancer at a specific stage of development.

It is important to know the technical name of your cancer (e.g., not breast cancer, but ductal carcinoma in situ). It is also important to know at what stage your cancer was diagnosed.

Whether or not you want to know the statistical probability of the outcome for your type of cancer is up to you. Prognosis is determined by a number of factors, but it still only represents a probable—not certain—outcome.