The Most Deadly Cancers

There are a huge number of potential cancers that a person can have. Skin, lung, pancreatic, brain, esophageal, and pretty much any other tissue can develop tumors that become cancerous. While the huge number of cancers all share the fact that they are all deadly if untreated, not all cancers, if treated, have the same mortality rate.

The mortality rate is the percentage of individuals that develop a specific type of cancer that then die. It can be tracked at the five year mark, ten year mark, and so on. One of the misleading facts of tracking mortality further out is that a person may die due to other causes. Because people typically develop cancer later in life, it is a very real possibility that an individual that is treated successfully for skin cancer at 60 may die of a different cause by the time he or she hits 80.

Overall, pancreatic cancer is the most deadly form of cancer. Fortunately, it is not a terribly common form of cancer. In 2008, there were 37,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer. While that may sound high, there were more than a million non-melanoma cases of skin cancer in the same year. Unfortunately, more than 90% of all people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die before they reach the five year mark. This is mostly due to there not being an effective test for the disease that will let it show up in the early stages. Because there is no test for the disease, by the time a person goes to the doctor with symptoms it is typically too late.

Lung cancer is another deadly form of cancer. Roughly 75% of all people diagnosed with a form of lung cancer will die before the five year mark. Lung cancer is dangerous because it has a very strong ability to spread to other parts of the body quickly. In addition, it is not typically a possible treatment option to remove a person’s lungs. Fortunately, around 80% of all people who are diagnosed with lung cancer have or do smoke. This means that individuals who have not lived with smokers and have never smoked have a less likely chance of falling into this group. The other 20% of cases are attributable to a variety of other causes, like asbestos exposure.

Leukemia is another cancer with a high mortality rate. Of the individuals diagnosed with leukemia, roughly half will die. This data is somewhat misleading though because there are numerous types of leukemia. Some types of leukemia are harder to treat than others and so just because a person is diagnosed with leukemia does not mean that the person has a 50/50 chance of surviving to five years.

For more information on lung cancer and its treatments, please visit

by Joseph Devine


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