Cancer survival rates up significantly from 10 years ago

A new report shows that recently cancer-diagnosed American men and women are 39 to 68 percent likelier to be alive five years later.

The new study, published in JAMA Oncology, showed that US cancer patients between the ages of 50 and 64 who were diagnosed with a variety of cancers between 2005 and 2009 were given the increase in longevity rates compared to those diagnosed at the same age between 1990 and 1994.

Dr. Wei Zheng, the study’s senior author from Vanderbilt University in Nashville said, “Pretty much all populations improved their cancer survival over time.”

The study followed more than one million people who were diagnosed with a variety of cancers including breast, prostate, colon or rectum, liver, ovary and lung between 1990 and 2010.

Of those studied, 58 percent of people aged 50 to 64 diagnosed with rectal or colon cancer between 1990 and 1994 were alive five years later. The five-year survival rates for prostate cancer was 91 percent, breast cancer was 83 percent, 47 percent for those with ovarian cancer, 13 percent for lung cancer patients, 7 percent for liver cancer and about 5 percent for pancreas cancer.

Between 2005 and 2009, the same-aged people diagnosed with the same cancers rose significantly with the exception of ovarian cancer. The five-year survival rates for prostate cancer rose by 68 percent, colon or rectum cancer rose by 43 percent, breast cancer by 52 percent, liver cancer by 39 percent, 27 percent for pancreas cancer and 25 percent increase for lung cancer patients.

The study also showed that the odds of survival did not equally apply to all age groups, and was favored by younger cancer patients. For example, results show that survival for patients between the ages of 75 and 85 only rose by between 12 and 35 percent.

Researchers speculate a reason older patients are not benefiting equally from the medical advances is that doctors may be reluctant about aggressive treatment out of fear elderly patients won’t be able to tolerate chemotherapy or surgery.

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