Welcome to 5-year Survival Rate

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It's time for good health, longevity and wellness starting today with daily exercise, normal weight and healthy eating... 5-year survival rates are used by cancer doctors as a standard method of discussing a patients outlook. The five year survival rate refers to percentage of patients who live at least 5-years after their cancer was first diagnosed. Many patients live much longer than 5-years (and are cured). To calculate 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment options then often will result in a more favorable prognosis for people now being diagnosed with cancer and tumors.

Cancer Survival

Advances in the ways cancer is diagnosed and treated have increased the number of people who live disease-free for long periods of time. This special report looks at trends in 5-year survival rates for cancer, the time period traditionally associated with good prognosis. However, some people will experience a recurrence of their cancer after five years.

More than 14 million Americans are alive after having been diagnosed with invasive cancer. Among survivors, more than 3 million were living with a previous diagnosis of female breast cancer, almost 3 million were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 1 million had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. More than 2 million of 14 million Americans diagnosed with invasive cancer were longer-term survivors (16.5%) diagnosed at least 20 years earlier.


Five-year relative cancer survival rate: The proportion of patients who survive cancer for as long as 5-years after diagnosis calculated in the absence of other causes of death. This rate is a ratio (expressed as a percentage) of the proportion of observed survivors in a cohort of cancer patients to the proportion of expected survivors. This report shows survival rates for cancers of the prostate, female breast, colon/rectum, and lung. It also shows survival rates for all cancers combined.

The 5-year survival rates are highest for prostate and female breast cancers, intermediate for colorectal cancer, and lowest five-year survival rate is for lung cancer patients.

survival rate chart

Key Issues for Survival Rates

Improved survival rates result from a combination of early detection, better treatment and improved medical support-care. It's hard to separate the contributions of each factor. Caution is also warranted against over-interpretation of improved survival as a result of early detection via screening (lead-time bias). Click-here for Health Tip-of-the-Day.

Despite the positive trends in 5-year survival for three of the most common cancers, lung cancer survival rates remain low. Prevention efforts to reduce the incidence of lung cancer would therefore contribute to improvement in overall cancer survival rates for all cancers combined.

Groups at High Risk for Limited Survival

Late stage at diagnosis is associated with limited survival. Causes of disparity in late-stage cancer diagnosis vary by site, but may include factors related to:

  • Low socioeconomic status - such as health insurance, income, or education - or
  • Related demographic attributes - such as age, gender, or race and ethnicity minority.

This association supports the need for continued development of early detection and stage-appropriate treatment strategies, as well as expanded efforts to ensure that all Americans have equal access to these life-saving interventions.

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