Cancer Survival Rates: What They Mean for the Patients
Cancer survival rates, or survival statistics, are defined as the percentage of cancer patient that survive for a specific amount of time. When people are diagnosed with serious illness, like cancer, the first thing they would ask is their prognosis. In the case of cancers, the period commonly used to estimate survival rate is five years. Of course, the doctor cannot exactly estimate the rate of survival, but he can make an estimate based on the experience of patients with the same type of cancer.
Cancer Survival Rates: Definition and Uses
As defined above, cancer survival rates show the percentage of patients that survive for certain period after the diagnosis. It is usually stated in percentage for every type of cancer. For instance, 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 6 percent. It means that 6% of all patients, who have pancreatic cancer, are living 5 years after the diagnosis. In other words, about 94 out of every 100 patients are dead 5 years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The scientists estimate cancer survival rates based on the research conducted for hundreds or even thousands of people, who have specific type of cancer. The survival rate includes patients of all ages, all health condition, and types of onset. This is called overall survival rate. Moreover, the doctor may estimate specific survival rate based on the stage of cancer, age, gender, type of treatment, or many other characteristics.
Now the question, “How are cancer survival rates used?” The statistic information is commonly used for:
- Understanding prognosis. The survival rate helps answer your question about prognosis. This also estimates the chance for having your cancer cured. Of course, the prognosis also depends upon other factors like age and general health. With this information, the doctor may have understanding on the seriousness of your illness.
- Developing a treatment plan. The seriousness of cancer determines the type of treatment plan than may work for you. Every treatment option for serious disease like cancer has the pros and cons. The doctor can use them to suggest the best treatment. For instance, if two treatment options provide you with similar chance for remission, the doctor will suggest one with fewer side effects and less invasive procedure.
However, cancer survival rates are only statistics based upon research on thousands of people. They does not take into account the current treatments you have or other diseases you may have. As a result, some patients ignore the survival rate. Since everybody responds differently to any type of treatments, you might find that the statistics do not work for you. No two patients are exactly alike.
Cancer Survival Rates Based on the Type of Cancer
As discussed above, the every type of cancer has different survival rates. The type of cancer shows the affected organs and the rate of progression. On one hand, the statistics may be frightening for the patients and relatives. On the other hand, it also shows that cancer has become a curable illness, since some patients are still living after being diagnosed for many years.
The good news is that cancer survival rates show declining trends in the last several years, thanks to the technology of early detection system for cancer. The following are some profiles of survival rates for some types of cancer. As there are so many types of cancer, not all of them are discussed here:
- Breast Cancer; This is the most common tumor in women. According to National Cancer Institute (NCI), 5-year survival rate of breast cancer has increased from 83% according to the 2003-2009 statistics to 89.7% according to the 2008-2014 statistics.
- Lung Cancer; This is one of the most aggressive types tumors. Five-year Survival rates increased from 10% according to the 2003-2009 statistics to 18,1% according to the 2008-2014 statistics.
- Prostate Cancer; This is the most common cancer in men. The prognosis has increased favorably. The global survival rate was 76% according to the 2003-2009 statistics and increased to 98,6% according the 2008-2014 statistics.
- Colorectal cancer; This is the most common malignant tumor in both men and women. Average survival rate in both genders increased from 50-55% according to the 2003-2009 statistics to 64.9% according to the recent NCI report.
Among the cancers with the worst prognoses are hepatic cancer, pancreatic cancer, mesothelioma, glioblastoma, and Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. They show survival rates of 17.6%, 8.2%, 9%, 4%, and 0%, respectively. Again, these cancer survival rates do not consider other compounding health conditions and recent treatments. It is up to the patients and the relatives to determine whether to ask for treatment based on the statistics or not
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