A new study reports, survival rates are improving for many cancer patients, particularly for those diagnosed at younger ages.
In the United States cancer is still a leading cause of death, but then advances in radiation and chemotherapy have improved survival, especially for cancer of the colon or rectum, breast, prostate, lung, liver and ovary, according to new research.
Though survival rates for most cancers have improved, the developments were less remarkable among elderly patients and tended to favor younger patients.
The study also found differences in survival based on race. Blacks had poorer survival than whites. In ovarian cancer black women experienced a shrinkage in survival over the past two decades for unknown reasons.
The study was published online in JAMA Oncology. Zheng and his colleagues analyzed data of over 1 million patients who were diagnosed with cancer of the breast, colon or rectum, prostate, liver, lung, pancreas or ovary from 1990 to 2010.
According to the study, the odds of survival increased significantly for many patients ages 50 to 64.
Dr. Wei Zheng, the study’s senior author from Vanderbilt University in Nashville said,
“Pretty much all populations improved their cancer survival over time.”
In 1990 to 1994, patients’ ages 50 to 64 diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer, 58 percent were alive five years later. Five-year survival rates were around 83 percent for breast cancer, 7 percent for liver cancer, around 13 percent for lung cancer, around 5 percent for pancreas cancer, around for ovarian cancer 47 percent and around 91 percent for prostate cancer.
For same age range diagnosed between 2005 and 2009, except ovarian cancer, a larger proportion survived each of the cancers. Compared to the early 1990s, risk of death at five years decreased by 43 percent for colon or rectum cancers, 52 percent for breast cancer, 39 percent for liver cancer, 68 percent for prostate cancer, 25 percent for lung cancer and 27 percent for pancreas cancer.
The researchers write that the reason for the increases in survival is the advances in treatments and better cancer screenings and diagnoses.
The researchers pointed out that older people may not benefit equally from medical advances, because doctors may avoid aggressive care for them for fear they couldn’t tolerate treatments.
Zheng added, “Additional research is needed to find the reasons why there are gaps.”