Cancer is a scary word. But when you know all the facts, knowledge and understanding can reduce the fear. Find out everything you need to know about cancer and its effects...

Cancer Survival Rates

The first question that every cancer patient asks when diagnosed with cancer is about the survival rate. He would want to know his prognosis- how difficult or easy it is to cure his cancer and whether it is curable in the first place. Of course, doctors cannot see the future but they can give an estimate based on the cancer survival rate and on his experience as an oncologist.

What are Cancer Survival Rates?

These are basically statistics that give an idea of the percentage of cancer patients who have survived a particular cancer in the last five years. For example, the cancer survival rate for cancer of the urinary bladder has been calculated as 80 percent. This implies that out of every 100 patients who have suffered from this cancer, 80 have survived while 20 died from the condition.
Cancer survival rates are calculated on the basis of research and statistics that are collected from all people from all age groups and health terms suffering from a particular type of cancer including both types of patients, those that have been diagnosed at an early stage and those at a late stage. However, there are cancer survival rates that are also calculated for specific conditions, age groups and cancer stages.

It is important to know the specific cancer survival rates and not just the overall ones as the latter do not specify the seriousness of the condition. They also do not indicate whether the survivors have become completely free of the cancer or whether they are still suffering from it and are undergoing treatment. For a more correct estimation, specific cancer survival rates are necessary and these include:

• Disease-free survival rates: This rate gives the percentage of cancer patients who are under remission or who have no signs of the condition anymore.

• Progression-free survival rates: This rate gives the percentage of cancer patients who are having effective treatment but still haven’t got rid of the disease completely.
Usefulness of Cancer Survival Rates

Cancer survival rates could be used for the following purposes:

• Understanding prognosis: From his previous experience of handling patients with the same condition, an oncologist can give a cancer patient an idea the chances of his cancer being cured. Considering specific factors like age and health conditions, the seriousness of the disease can be understood using cancer survival rates.

• Developing treatment plans: Based on the statistics of treatment responses for the same type and stage of cancer, the treatment plan of a cancer patient can be developed. The upsides and downsides of a particular treatment can weighed using the cancer survival rates and accordingly treatment options can be chosen. For example, if a particular type of cancer has been cured to the same level by two different types of treatment, with one producing more side effects than the other, the obvious choice becomes the treatment with the less side effects. The oncologist can use the research information to explain the potential risks and benefits of each type of treatment option that is available for specific conditions.