PURPOSE: Numerous previous studies have reported inconsistent results about the differences between synchronous contralateral breast cancer (sCBC) and metachronous contralateral breast cancer (mCBC). This study aimed to compare the clinical characteristics and outcomes between sCBC and mCBC and determine predictive factors for the survival of sCBC and mCBC patients. METHODS: Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program database, we identified sCBC or mCBC patients from 2000 to 2010. The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression analysis were used to analyze overall survival and breast cancer-specific survival (BCSS) rates of sCBCs and mCBCs, respectively. RESULTS: Overall, 14,057 sCBC (n = 8,139, 57.9%) and mCBC (n = 5,918, 42.1%) patients were included. The first tumors of sCBC were more likely to have higher stage and more lymph and distant metastases, whereas those of mCBC were more often infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC), had localized stage, were estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) negative, and had less axillary nodal involvement. The second tumors of mCBC tended to be IDC and have higher grade, adverse stage, ER and PR-negativity; and more axillary nodal involvement, compared to the second tumors of sCBC. mCBC patients had significantly favorable 5-year BCSS but worse long-term BCSS compared with sCBC patients. Moreover, subgroup analysis revealed no significant difference of BCSS between sCBC and mCBC among patients aged 18â€“60 years. Multivariate analysis indicated that age, grade, and stage of 2 tumors; surgery for second tumor; and ER status of the second tumor were independent prognostic factors for BCSS of contralateral breast cancer (CBC). CONCLUSION: The characteristics and outcomes of sCBCs and mCBCs were substantially different. sCBC and mCBC patients may have different prognosis, and the prognosis of CBC depends on the first and second tumors.