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Advances in the ways cancer is diagnosed and treated have increased the number of people who live disease-free for long periods of time. This report looks at trends in 5-year survival rates for cancer, the time period traditionally associated with good prognosis. However, some people will have a recurrence of their cancer after 5 years.
In 2005 nearly 11.1 million Americans who had been diagnosed with cancer were alive. Of these, nearly 2.5 million were diagnosed with female breast cancer, 2.1 million were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 1.1 million were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Approximately 592,709 (5 percent of the 10.7 million) Americans diagnosed with cancer were longer-term survivors diagnosed at least 29 years earlier.
Five-year relative cancer survival rate: The proportion of patients surviving cancer 5 years after diagnosis calculated in the absence of other causes of death. It is a ratio expressed as a percent, of the proportion of observed survivors in a cohort of cancer patients to the proportion of expected survivors. This report shows survival rates for cancers of the prostate, female breast, colon/rectum, lung, and for all cancers combined.
All cancer sites combined: Generally rising since 1975 except stable during 1992–1995
Prostate: Generally rising since 1975 except stable during 1992–1995
Female breast: Rising since 1975
Colorectal: Generally rising since 1975 except for non-significant change during 1990–1995
Lung and bronchus: Significant slight rise since 1987
Among these four cancers, five-year survival rates are highest for prostate and female breast cancers and lowest for lung cancer.
For patients diagnosed with cancer (all sites) in 2000, 67.2 percent had survived their cancer for at least 5 years.
Increase to 70 percent the proportion of cancer survivors who are living 5 years or longer after diagnosis.
Late stage at diagnosis is associated with limited survival. This association supports the need for continued development of early detection and stage-appropriate treatment strategies, as well as expanded efforts to ensure that all Americans have equal access to these life-saving interventions.
Improved survival rates result from both early detection and better treatments. It is difficult to separate out the contribution of each factor.
Despite the positive trends in 5-year survival for three of the most common cancers, lung cancer survival rates remain low.