Proportion of cancer patients surviving five years or longer after diagnosis has increased

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chemotherapySixty-five percent of those diagnosed with invasive cancer during 2003 to 2010 survived for five years or longer after their diagnosis, according to a recent report from the CDC. This is an increase from 64 percent from 1975-2007, as reported in 2013.

The CDC analyzed data from US Cancer Statistics (USCS) for 2011, the most recent data available. The findings were reported in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The authors write that survival rate depends on the type of cancer and age at diagnosis. Among the most common cancer types, the 5-year survival rate was the highest for prostate cancer (97 percent), breast cancer (88 percent), and colorectal cancer (63 percent), and the lowest for lung cancer (18 percent). The 5-year survival was also highest in patients who were under age 45 at diagnosis (81 percent). The authors note that survival was lower among black persons (60 percent) compared with white persons (65 percent).

One of the main purposes of the investigation was to assess progress toward achieving the objectives of Healthy People 2020, which is a program of health-promotion and disease-prevention goals set by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The analysis showed that 37 states have met the incidence goal for cervical cancer, while only 28 states have met the goal for colorectal cancer. This is actually a national preventable tragedy, since about half of all US colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone age 50 and older got screened utilizing colonoscopy (as we ve emphasized often in the past).

These data are an important reminder that a key to surviving with cancer is making sure that everyone has access to care from early diagnosis to treatment, stated Dr. Lisa Richardson, MD, director of the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. We know, for example, that early detection of colorectal cancer has had the largest impact on long-term survival rates.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross added, We here at ACSH have been increasingly skeptical about the net benefits of many traditional screening tests. Studies over the past few years have called into question whether tests such as PSAs and even mammograms do more good than harm for normal-risk people as a screening method. Colonoscopy is clearly beneficial and life-saving for reducing the toll of colorectal cancer, however, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

"The sad and obdurate lung cancer stats are gradually declining in parallel with the all-too-slow decline in smoking rates: the large majority of lung tumors are discovered too late for cure; hopefully more will be saved by low-dose spiral CT scans for long-term smokers. The survival stats for breast and prostate cancers are skewed by over-diagnosis due to over-screening, which finds too many non-threatening lesions, but helps increase survival rates.