The risk of death after being diagnosed with breast cancer in its early stages has decreased about 66% in the last 30 years, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.

Using the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, researchers from the United Kingdom and Canada studied data on more than 500,000 women in England who were diagnosed with early breast cancer between 1993 to 2015, according to The University of Oxford.

News Medical said the women were followed until 2020 and the findings reveal that “the average risk of dying from breast cancer in the five years after a diagnosis has fallen from 14% to 5% since the 1990s.”

Carolyn Taylor, professor of oncology at Oxford Population Health and lead author of the study, said, “It shows that prognosis after a diagnosis of early breast cancer varies widely. Patients and clinicians can use our results to estimate prognosis moving forward. In the future, further research may be able to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer even more.”

Dr. Marisa Weiss, director of breast radiation oncology at Lankenau Medical Center, Main Line Health, told CBS News, “Mammograms are your best way of being diagnosed early and saving your own life.”

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Study details

“This is the first study to identify the extent of the decreased risk and to analyze whether or not the decrease in risk applied to all patients,” not just patients with specific characteristics, the university said.

Key findings from the study were listed by Oxford and include:

  • All women in the study were at the highest risk of death within the first five years of diagnosis.
  • All groups studied experienced improvements in their prognosis when the cancer was found early, with improved chances of survival.
  • For the 156,338 women diagnosed between 2010-2015, the risk of death within five years of a diagnosis varied depending on characteristics like cancer size and age of the patient.
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The study included women who were treated with surgery first and did not include patients who received treatment prior to the surgery. Also not included were those with cancer that had all widely spread and women diagnosed with multiple cancers, News Medical said.

“A new study like this is hopeful to me and people in my family, as well as thousands of patients I have the privilege and honor of taking care of,” Weiss told CBS News.

News Medical reported that researchers said most women diagnosed with early breast cancer today “can expect to become long-term cancer survivors.”