Cancer Survival Rates

cancer survivor

Cancer survival rates differ according to whatever type of cancer you have and also the stage that it is diagnosed. One of the worst cancer statistics anywhere in the world is lung cancer. Published 5-year survival for patients with lung cancer varies from 5% to 16% internationally. One of the reasons that the cancer survival rates differ so widely is the fact that the statistical information is not always in the public domain, and each individual study collects and interprets the data differently according to the abstract of the study. In other words each cancer statistic is as unique as you are.

Data from the US indicates a 5-year survival rate of up to 16% although this figure cannot be relied on because it excludes seventy five percent of the population, so as a statistic it does not apply to the population as a whole. To make a valid comparison of mortality rates for cancer survival rates is no different from making valid statistical evidence in any other disease, the data has to have been collected and examined in the same way. ( Respiratory Medicine, Volume 100, Issue 9, Pages 1642-1646 C. Butler, K. Darragh, G. Currie, W. Anderson, Respiratory Medicine, Volume 100, Issue 9, Pages 1642-1646). Being frightened by statistics or even worse believing statistics can affect how you survive or not your cancer.

Changing the Face of Cancer Survival Statistics

Statistics come down to risks at the end of the day and your risk of getting cancer. In the United States the statistics for lung cancer reveal that it kills more people than those that die from breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and cervical cancer combined. However that is due to the fact that there is widespread screening beyond a certain age for prostrate, breast and cervical cancer.

The New England Journal of Medicine of October 26, 2006 reported that eighty percent of deaths from lung cancer were potentially avoidable. Spiral computed tomography (CT) scanning has the potential to detect it at its early stage 1 stage, at this stage it is a curable cancer. The reason that the mortality rates are so bleak is the fact that by the time most people realize that they have this cancer, it is too far advanced to do anything about it.

The initial study was carried out at the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center during 1993 and has subsequently expanded into an international study of 38 institutions in 7 countries and become known as the International Early Lung Cancer Action Project (I-ELCAP).

Surgery is effective in curing this cancer is stage 1, later it is too advanced to make much difference and the reason that the cancer rate survival statistics are so dismal is the fact that it is rarely detected at stage 1.

Later studies from 1993 to 2005 in the United States, Europe, Israel, China, and Japan screened 31,567 asymptomatic persons at high risk followed by repeat screenings in 27,456 of these individuals. 484 people were diagnosed with lung cancer, and 412 or 85% of these were Stage I. Of the 412 patients with stage I, 302 underwent surgical solutions within four weeks and within this group, the survival rate was 92%.

The estimated 10 year survival rate for the 484 participants with lung cancer was over 80 percent that is the highest percentage for survival ever recorded in a cancer study. In contrast the statistical cancer five year survival rates for stage IV can be as low as 5%. Some elected not to receive treatment and all were dead within five years. All the participants were at risk of lung cancer as they were all older than forty and either they smoked or had smoked or they were exposed to known carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, uranium, radon or beryllium, uranium or radon, or they had occupations which exposed them to passive smoking.

As with anything else the cost effectiveness of the screening has to be measured against the cost of treatment. It costs twice as much to treat lung cancer in its late stages than it does for stage 1 treatment. The charge for a low dose CT screening scan is between $200 – $300. New technology has made the screening more effective because when CT was new it was only capable of yielding thirty images now over 600 are possible.

To a certain extent there is resistance to scanning for lung cancer because often it is not regarded as a disease but as a reprimand or retribution. Also there is little consensus as to what constitutes a high risk population, because although it has been known for a century that smoking contributes to cancer, by no means all smokers develop lung cancer. However better genetic pointers will be available in the future and that will make it easier to predict exactly those at risk and that will make the possibility of screening more likely.

by Rita Goldman


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