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Overall, there are more than 10 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today. The five-year survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 1996 and 2003 is 66%, which is up from 50% from 1975-1977. This improvement is due to earlier diagnosis and improved treatment.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer death in women. After increasing steadily for many years, the overall incidence of breast cancer has decreased by 3.5% per year since 2001.
Breast cancer death rates have also steadily decreased. Since 1990, death rates in women younger than 50 decreased 3.3% per year and 2% per year in women over 50. This decrease represents progress in both earlier detection and improved treatment.
Survival rates for breast cancer continue to increase. The five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer (cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes or other locations outside the breast) has increased from 80% in the 1950's to 98% today. If cancer has spread regionally, (lymph nodes) the five-year survival rate is 84%. For women with distant spread, (metastasis) the five-year survival rate is 27%.
Breast cancer survival declines somewhat after five years. The survival rate for all cancer states combined is 80%* compared to 89% at five years.
*10-year survival rates represent detection and treatment circumstances five to 15 years ago and may underestimate the expected survival based on current conditions and methods of detection and treatment.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women and the third most common cause of cancer death in both. Colorectal cancer incidence rates have been decreasing since 1985, with a steeper decline in recent years (2.3% from 1998-2004) due primarily to increased screening and earlier detection.
The five-year survival rate for all persons with colorectal cancer is 64%. The 10-year survival rate is 57%. When colorectal cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage the five-year survival rate is 90%, however, less than 40% of colon cancers are diagnosed at this stage. Following the recommended colonoscopy screening guidelines beginning at age 50 (every 10 years) could significantly increase the number of colon cancers found at a curable stage. After cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes the five-year survival rate drops to 68%, while distant spread reduces the five-year survival rates to 10%.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second most common cause of cancer death in men. Incidence rates increased from 1988-1992, declined from 1992-1995 and have leveled off since 1995. The incidence of prostate cancer is significantly higher in African-American men.
The overall survival rate for prostate cancer has improved significantly from 69% to almost 99% due to earlier diagnosis and treatment. 90% of all prostate cancers are discovered in local or regional stages. The five-year survival rate of these cancers is approaching 100%.
Lung cancer is the number 2 type of cancer diagnosed in both men and women, but the number one cause of death in both. After a long period of increase, the incidence of lung cancer continues to decline significantly in men, and is finally reaching a plateau in women.
The five-year survival rate for all lung cancer cases combined is 15%. It is 49% for those diagnosed with local disease, but only 16% are diagnosed at this stage. Smoking cessation/prevention could significantly reduce mortality because smoking accounts for approximately 87% of all lung cancer deaths.
5-year survival rates for other cancers are as follows:
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