Cancer Survival Rates Improve, Researchers Say

A collaborative effort by several groups including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uncovered some promising news: cancer mortality rates in the United States are continuing to decline.

The recent report, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, tracked data of several different cancers from 1975 to 2014. Mortality rates for 11 of the 16 most common cancers declined between 2010 and 2014. However, racial disparities still exist for many common types of cancer, and some death rates continue to rise.

Many five-year survival rates increased among both blacks and whites, but racial disparities have increased in prostate cancer and female breast cancer. "We still have a lot of work to do to understand the causes of these differences, but certainly differences in the kinds and timing of recommended treatments are likely to play a role," said Dr. Lynne Penberthy, associate director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Research Program.

Mortality rates for cancers of the lung, colon, prostate and breast have decreased in recent years. However, researchers noted an increase in death rates for liver, pancreas and brain cancer in men and liver and uterine cancer in women.

The cancers with the highest survival rates were:

  • Prostate cancer – 99.3 percent
  • Thyroid cancer – 98.3 percent
  • Melanoma – 93.2 percent
  • Female breast cancer – 90.8 percent

Cancers with the lowest survival rates included:

  • Pancreatic cancer – 8.5 percent five-year survival rate
  • Liver cancer – 18.1 percent
  • Lung cancer – 18.7 percent
  • Esophageal cancer – 20.5 percent
  • Stomach cancer – 31.1 percent
  • Brain cancer – 35 percent

Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, New York, was pleased with these findings. "It is encouraging to see that the immense drive to improving cancer survival is working, as overall survival from cancer continues to improve," she said (Source: HealthDay).