The number of men and women who get cancer is increasing dramatically. One main reason is that this disease primarily strikes the older part of the population, which is growing. On the positive side, the numbers who survive cancer are increasing. Also, those who are not cured live longer, and new treatments give better quality of life. However, there are great differences in outcome, and fortunately also some huge successes.
Survival increases for all types of cancer
Five year relative survival increases for all types of cancer. In the period 1970-1974, only 32% of men and 45% of women lived five years after being diagnosed, relative to the mortality in the general population. Comparable numbers for survival the last years are 66% for men and 68% for women.
A prerequisite for survival is that cancer is discovered as early as possible. In most cases, five year survival is high when cancer has not spread to other organs.
Extremely poor survival for certain cancers
There are great differences in survival between the specific cancer cases. Very few who are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, oesophagus, liver or lung are alive five years after the diagnosis. However, the prognosis is significantly better for those who discover cancer in these organs at an early stage.
An increasing number of lung cancer patients are offered surgical treatment and the prognosis for this group is much better. The surgical lung cancer treatment is improved in the latter years. More patients are operated on and fewer die because of treatment. There is also an increase in survival due to surgery.
Statistics, so far, seem to show that 40 lives per year are saved because of surgery.
Lower mortality for breast and cervical cancer
The past 15 years, mortality has fallen for breast and cervical cancer. The reason for the reduction may be that screening discovers both of these diseases at an earlier stage and those diagnosed with these cancers get improved treatment.
Testicular cancer - a success story
In 1970 one out of three died from testicular cancer. Today the picture is completely different. New treatment leads to survival of almost all cases, also those with metastases. In 1970 eight out of ten with metastases died, today eight out of ten in this group survive.