Many people ask about their prognosis when they are first diagnosed with cancer. You may want to know if your cancer is relatively easy or difficult to cure. It is not possible to make any predictions because cancer affects everyone differently. The chances of survival are for reference and can not give any definite answers. But doctors can give you an estimate based on the data of the other patients with similar types and grades of cancer.
The cancer survival rate shows the percentage of people who survive a particular type of cancer for a particular period. Cancer statistics often use a 5-year overall survival rate.
Survival is usually expressed as a percentage. For example, the overall 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is 80%. This means that of all people diagnosed with breast cancer, 80 out of 100 are alive 5 years after diagnosis. Conversely, 20 out of 100 people die within 5 years of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer survival rate is based on a study from information gathered about hundreds or thousands of people with a particular type of cancer. Overall survival includes people of all ages and health diagnosed with your cancer, including those diagnosed very early and those diagnosed very late.
Doctors may be able to provide more specific statistics based on the stage of cancer. Overall survival does not indicate whether the cancer survivor is still being treated after 5 years or whether cancer has disappeared (remission has been achieved). Other types of survival that provide more specific information are:
Disease-free survival: This is the number of people who have no signs of cancer after treatment.
Progression-free survival rate: This is the number of people who have been treated for cancer and have no signs of recurrence of cancer that has not grown and is stable. Cancer survival rates often use the 5-year survival rate. That does not mean that cancer will not recur after 5 years.
Certain types of cancer can relapse years after they are first detected and treated. For some types of cancer, if they do not relapse 5 years after the initial diagnosis, the chances of subsequent recurrence are very low. Discuss the risk of cancer recurrence with your doctor.
You and your doctor can use survival statistics to understand your prognosis. The experience of others in your same situation can give you and your doctor an idea of your prognosis-the possibility that your cancer will be cured.
Other factors include age and general health. Your doctor will use these factors to help you understand the severity of your condition. Make a treatment plan. Statistics can also show how people with cancer of the same type and stage respond to treatment. You can use this information along with your treatment goals to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each treatment option. For example, if two treatments have similar remissions, but one has more side effects, you can choose the option with fewer side effects.
In another example, treatment may offer curative potential, but only 1 or 2 in 100. For some, these odds are promising enough to risk side effects. For others, the healing potential is not worth the side effects of the treatment. Doctors will help you understand the benefits and risks of each treatment.
Cancer survival statistics can be frustrating. The survival rate of people with your particular cancer is based on thousands of people. Therefore, cancer survival can give an overall picture of most people in your situation, but it cannot give individual opportunities for recovery or remission. This is why some people ignore cancer survival statistics.
Survival statistics do not take into account any other medical condition you have. If your health is otherwise perfect, you are probably more likely to survive than the statistics suggest. If you have other very serious medical conditions, you may not be able to survive, as statistics suggest. Your doctor may be able to help you adjust the statistics to your particular situation.
There are other restrictions on the survival rate. For example, you cannot know about the latest treatments. People included in the latest cancer statistics were diagnosed more than five years ago. The impact of discovering new therapies does not affect survival statistics for at least 5 years. So, it's up to you and your doctor. For some people, the treatment most likely to be in remission is the treatment they choose. However, many make decisions by considering other factors such as side effects, costs, and treatment plans.
You can look at the survival rate associated with the type and stage of cancer, or you can ignore them. You may find the statistics impersonal and useless, as the survival rate does not tell you anything about your situation. But some people want to know everything about their cancer. For this reason, you may want to know all the relevant statistics.
Knowing more about cancer can reduce anxiety when analyzing options and starting treatment, but survival statistics can be confusing and frightening. If you don't want to see the numbers, don't look at them. Some people want to know the "big picture" rather than detailed statistics. Tell your doctor how you would like to receive the information. Also, if you have any questions or concerns about cancer-related statistics, speak to your doctor.