Cancer survival rates vary hugely between different types of the disease and many factors impact a person’s likelihood of beating cancer, from the age of the person to how quickly the condition was diagnosed.
However, overall in the UK across all types of cancer around 50% of those affected by the disease outlive their diagnosis by more than 10 years. The cancer survival rate has doubled in the last 40 years alone and medical advancements are continuously being made to further improve the prognosis of cancer patients. Among the factors that have an impact on cancer survival statistics are:
The type of cancer you are diagnosed with
According to Cancer Research UK the survival rates for different cancers are huge, ranging from 98% for testicular cancer to just 1% for pancreatic cancer. Across the most common types of cancers in the UK, most have a ten-year survival rate of 50% or more.
While there are large variances in the types of cancer it’s important to note that typically the most common types of cancer have had more research and funding for treatments. As a result, more than 80% of patients that are diagnosed with cancer in the UK have a form of cancer that is easier to diagnose or treat with a greater chance of patients surviving their diagnosis by at least a decade.
The grade of cancer at diagnosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with any form of cancer it should then be graded, which may involve further testing. Grading the cancer means assessing how abnormal the cancerous cells are when compared to normal, healthy cells. The grade given gives medical professionals an indication of how the cells may behave and how aggressive the cancer is, although this acts as an indicator rather than an exact prediction.
Typically, cancer is graded 1, 2, or 3, with 1 indicating the cells in the tumour are similar to normal cells and growing slowly, while 3 suggests that the cancerous cells are very abnormal and are growing rapidly. Cancer that is graded lower is typically easier to treat and therefore survival rates tend to be higher.
Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
If cancer has spread to other parts of the body it can make treatment more complex and in some cases a complete cure may not be possible. However, even where a cure isn’t possible treatment to control and relieve symptoms can be used and in some cases patients can live for years following an untreatable diagnosis.
After an initial diagnosis, cancer is staged. The stages indicate how large the tumour is and whether it has affected surrounding tissue or other parts of the body. There are several staging systems but a common one has 4 numbered stages. Stage 1 usually means that the cancer is relatively small and contained, while stage 4 means the cancer has spread beyond where it started, affecting other organs. Survival rates are higher when the cancer is diagnosed in the earliest stage.
The age of the patient at diagnosis
The age of the patient when they are diagnosed also has an impact on survival rates. In adults, the success of treatment tends to gradually fall as people get older.