Last updated date: 23-Apr-2023
Medically Reviewed By
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Lavrinenko Oleg
Originally Written in English
Survival rate by cancer type and which country to choose
Cancer represents a group of diseases which involve abnormal cell growth that could spread and invade different parts of the body. The cells start dividing uncontrollably and invading and destroying normal body tissue. Cancer can easily spread throughout the whole body, making it the second cause of death worldwide.
In most cases, oncogene activation and/or tumor suppressor gene deactivation results in uncontrolled cell cycle progression and inactivation of apoptotic mechanisms. Malignant malignancies, as opposed to benign tumors, develop metastasis, which is caused in part by the down-regulation of cell adhesion receptors required for tissue-specific cell-cell attachment.
Only malignant tumors are legitimately referred to as cancers, and cancer is harmful because of their capacity to penetrate and metastastize. Whereas benign tumors may normally be removed surgically, malignant tumors are frequently resistant to such limited therapies due to their ability to spread to distant body regions.
Tumors are classed as benign or malignant based on the kind of cell that gives birth to them. Most malignancies are classified into one of three types: carcinomas, sarcomas, and leukemias or lymphomas. Carcinomas are epithelial cell tumors that account for about 90% of all human cancers. Sarcomas are solid tumors of connective tissues such as muscle, bone, cartilage, and fibrous tissue that are uncommon in humans.
Leukemias and lymphomas, which account for around 8% of all human cancers, start from blood-forming cells and immune system cells, respectively. Tumors are further categorized based on their origin tissue (for example, lung or breast carcinomas) and the kind of cell involved. Fibrosarcomas, for example, develop from fibroblasts, and erythroid leukemias from erythrocyte progenitors (red blood cells).
In 2018, 1 out of 6 deaths globally was caused by cancer, 9.6 million deaths worldwide. But a cancer diagnosis does not necessarily mean death and lives are saved every day as technologies and treatments around the world are continuously improving and as more awareness is raised around prevention and early diagnosis.
Difference between normal and cancerous cells
The key distinction between normal and malignant cells is that cancer cells have lost the growth restrictions that define normal cells. Significantly, a substantial proportion of cells in a tumor are in mitosis, whereas mitosis is an uncommon event in most normal tissues.
When grown in culture, cancer cells exhibit a number of atypical properties, including a lack of contact inhibition and a reduced reliance on the presence of growth stimulants in the environment. Cancer cells, unlike normal cells, do not collaborate with other cells in their surroundings.
In tissue culture, they frequently proliferate forever. Another essential feature of the cancerous state is the capacity to divide for an apparently infinite number of generations, allowing a tumor formed of such cells to develop without the limits that ordinarily limit cell proliferation.
Causes of cancer
Carcinogens, or substances that cause cancer, have been found via research in animals as well as epidemiological analyses of cancer rates in human populations (e.g., the high incidence of lung cancer among cigarette smokers).
Because the formation of malignancy is a complicated multistep process, several variables may influence the risk that cancer will develop, therefore speaking about single causes of most malignancies is unduly simple. Despite this, various factors, including radiation, chemicals, and viruses, have been shown to cause cancer in both experimental animals and humans.
Radiation and many chemical carcinogens cause cancer by causing DNA damage and mutations. These carcinogens are known as starting agents because the activation of mutations in important target genes is assumed to be the first event that leads to cancer formation.
Solar UV radiation (the leading cause of skin cancer), carcinogenic compounds in cigarette smoke, and aflatoxin are some of the beginning factors that contribute to human malignancies (a potent liver carcinogen produced by some molds that contaminate improperly stored supplies of peanuts and other grains).
Studies show that the most common risk factors for cancer are the high body mass index, the low intake of fruits and vegetables, the lack of physical activities, and the use of tobacco and alcohol. Tobacco alone is one of the main risks as it is responsible for almost 22% of cancer deaths. Also, there are viruses such as Helicobacter pylori, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Epstein-Barr that determine carcinogenic infections and are responsible for 15% of the cancers diagnosed in 2012.
See more: Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cancer
Apart from these modifiable risk factors that any patient could improve through lifestyle changes, aging is another fundamental factor for the development of cancer. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as patients grow older.
Hormones, notably estrogens, play a crucial role in the development of various human malignancies as tumor promoters. Estrogen, for example, stimulates the growth of cells in the uterine endometrium, and excessive estrogen exposure considerably raises a woman's risk of developing endometrial cancer.
Long-term postmenopausal estrogen replacement treatment with high dosages of estrogen alone so significantly increases the risk of endometrial cancer. Fortunately, this danger is mitigated by progesterone treatment, which counteracts estrogen's stimulatory action on endometrial cell growth. Long-term estrogen and progesterone treatment, on the other hand, may raise the risk of breast cancer.
Although there are many different types of cancer, only a handful of them is common. More than a million instances of cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, and more than 500,000 Americans die as a result of cancer. Cancers of ten different body locations account for more than 75% of total cancer incidence.
Breast, prostate, lung, and colon/rectum cancers are the four most frequent malignancies, accounting for more than half of all cancer cases. Lung cancer is by far the most fatal, accounting for roughly 30% of all cancer deaths.
According to the World Health Organization, the most common cancers are:
- Lung (2.09 million cases per year);
- Breast (2.09 million cases per year);
- Colorectal (1.80 million cases per year);
- Prostate (1.28 million cases per year);
- Skin cancer (non-melanoma) (1.04 million cases per year);
- Stomach (1.03 million cases per year).
At the same time, the deadliest types of cancers are of:
- Lung (1.76 million deaths per year)
- Colorectal (862.000 deaths per year)
- Stomach (783.000 deaths per year)
- Liver (782.000 deaths per year) and
- Breast (627.000 deaths per year).
Diagnosis at an earlier stage of cancer's development is associated with improved outcomes and increased survival chances. Early diagnosis can be improved by reducing the time waiting to see a specialist or the time waiting for diagnostic tests.
It can also be improved through public health interventions, such as screening programs and education campaigns. This is one of the reasons cancer survival rates differ from country to country depending on how strong the healthcare system is.
The stage at which a cancer is diagnosed describes the size of a tumor and how far it has spread from where it originated. The numerical staging system classifies cancers into four stages, from 1 to 4
- Stages 1 and 2 are considered to be early stages at diagnosis, where stage 1 indicates that the cancer is small.
- Stage 2 indicates that cancer has grown, but has not yet spread anywhere else in the body.
- If the cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, once it has spread, then chances of survival decrease as effective treatment become more difficult.
Cancer survival rates
Patients, physicians, academics, and policymakers are all interested in survival statistics. Although it appears to be easy, survival may be perplexing: there are several survival measures with a variety of names and statistical approaches devised to address various issues.
Scientists assess the impact of cancer in a population by evaluating three factors:
- The number of new cases per year per 100,000 persons (incidence rate)
- The number of deaths per 100,000 persons per year (mortality rate)
- The proportion of patients alive at some point after their diagnosis of cancer (survival rate).
The cancer survival rate is one of the key measures of the effectiveness of cancer services. Survival rates capture both how good the system is in detecting the disease and whether patients have rapid access to effective treatment. Long-term survival rates for many forms of cancer have increased significantly in recent decades as a result of advancements in early identification and treatment. There is currently a huge variation in survival between cancer types, resulting from a range of patient-level, treatment, and biological factors.
Survival and mortality are two sides of the same coin in everyday usage: a person is either living or dead. However, in cancer statistics, survival and death are two sides of the same coin. Mortality is a measure of the total number of cancer deaths in a population.
It is the probability that a person in the population will die of cancer over a given time period, generally a year. The number of persons living after being diagnosed with cancer is referred to as survival. It is the likelihood that a cancer patient will live for several years (usually five or ten years) following diagnosis.
Individual survival is the most important statistic for cancer patients, not population death. Survival, rather than mortality, answers the question that cancer patients want to know: what are my chances of survival given my diagnosis? Clearly, survival is an essential clinical metric that can offer a prognosis for specific cancer kinds and cancer patients.
- Overall survival
Overall survival, also known as all-cause, observed, and crude survival, is the simplest straightforward survival metric. It calculates the likelihood of survival after a diagnosis. Overall survival is the most trustworthy and reliable survival metric since it utilizes death from all causes as the endpoint (rather than death from a single cause, which might be misattributed). However, it is particularly insufficient to offer information on survival after a cancer diagnosis. Higher survival may be due to fewer deaths from other causes or from a specific malignancy.
5-year survival rate
The highest 5 years survival rate refers to the percentage of people who will be alive 5 years following the cancer diagnosis. The survival rates listed below are based on data obtained from the Office for National Statistics, UK.
The cancer types with the highest 5 years survival rate for both men and women are:
- Melanoma of skin (91.3%);
- Thyroid (87.4%);
- Hodgkin lymphoma (82.2%);
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (65.6%) and
- Kidney (63.8%).
Taking a closer look at survival rates for each gender, the highest survival rates for men cancers only are as follows:
- Testis (95.3%),
- Prostate (86.6%) and
- Larynx (63.9%)
For women cancers only are:
- Breast (85%);
- Uterus (75.6%);
- Vulva (67.1%);
- Cervix (61.4%) and
- Ovary (42.6%).
Survival rate of pancreatic cancer
A relative survival rate compares patients with the same kind and stage of pancreatic cancer to the general population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a given stage of pancreatic cancer is 50%, it implies that people with that disease are roughly half as likely as persons who do not have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
Survival rate of colon cancer
A relative survival rate compares cancer patients of the same kind and stage to the general population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a certain stage of the colon or rectal cancer is 80%, it implies that persons with that disease are approximately 80% more likely than those who do not have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
Survival rate of prostate cancer
A relative survival rate compares cancer patients of the same kind and stage to the general population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a given stage of prostate cancer is 90%, it implies that men with that disease are roughly 90% as likely as men who do not have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
Survival rate of lung cancer
The five-year survival rate for lung cancer (18.6 percent) is lower than that of several other prominent cancer sites, including colorectal (64.5 percent), breast (89.6 percent), and prostate (89.6 percent) (98.2 percent). For patients discovered when the illness is still confined inside the lungs, the five-year survival rate is 56%.
Survival rate of breast cancer
Women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer had a 90% 5-year survival rate. Women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer had an 84 percent 10-year survival rate. Women with invasive breast cancer have a 99 percent 5-year survival rate if the cancer is exclusively found in the breast.
Cancer survival rates across countries
One of the most significant early findings concerning cancer was that its prevalence varied between populations. In 1775, for example, an unusually high prevalence of scrotal cancer was reported among adults who worked as chimney sweeps as youngsters.
Lung cancer was found at disturbingly high rates among pitchblende miners in Germany in the mid-1800s. By the end of the nineteenth century, several physicians believed that taking snuff and cigars was linked to malignancies of the mouth and throat.
There is a strong cause-effect relationship between environment and cancer. Studies show that most deaths by cancer happen in poor, underdeveloped countries and in low and middle-income classes. The inability of humans to treat their bodies correctly can have deadly effects.
In addition, the lack of hospitals and well-trained medical staff is another problem in the less developed countries. As studies show, there are more chances to successfully treat cancer and survive in the most developed countries than in the underdeveloped ones.
Based on information obtained from “Our world in data", in 2009, the 5 years survival rate of Lung cancer was at approximately 30%, while in Bulgaria and Mongolia it was only 7%. The 5 years survival rate of Breast cancer is over 80% in North America, Europe, and Oceania, while in Jordan only 43%. The lowest survival rate of Liver cancer in 2009 was recorded in Romania with 2.3%, while the survival rate in Japan for the same disease was almost 27%.
The survival rates significantly increase when the patient manages to start the treatment at an early stage of the disease. The earlier it is identified, the more chances of survival the patient has. The survival rates are also highly impacted by the financial possibilities of each patient, as more money buys better healthcare services.
The best healthcare services are found in the economically leading countries as the hospitals benefit both from modern equipment and prestigious medical professionals.
Cancer survival rates are inevitably closely linked to human behavior. As we improve our lifestyle, we also slowly make process against cancer. For example, one of the main risk factors for cancer is smoking. In the most developed countries, the lung cancer cases are on a descendent path as smoking gradually becomes a thing of the past, as people become more aware of the health risks that come along with this habit. At the same time, the current high number of cancer cases in the world nowadays can also be explained by the increased life expectancy.
Cancer prognosis conveys the net consequence of a cancer diagnosis: the likelihood of survival if cancer is the sole likely cause of death. Patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, on the other hand, maybe significantly more interested in understanding what is likely to happen to them over time, especially their chances of dying from the illness vs dying from competing causes or surviving.
Which country to choose for treatment?
As discussed before, cancer survival varies substantially across countries. Each country's survival rate is strongly associated with investments in innovative drugs for all cancers and in medical equipment. The better-performing richer countries with better cancer survival outcomes have established cancer policy priorities, implemented key elements of cancer control, introduced integrated care processes, and actively worked on the delivery of cancer services and they are leading the way in cancer treatments.
For example, Japan, Australia, the United States of America, and South Korea are the countries that show the highest 5 years survival rates. They are continuously investing in research and development in order to offer up-to-date top medical services for patients in need.
Deciding which country to choose for cancer treatment can be overwhelming for patients and their families. Support from a team of healthcare specialists could be extremely valuable in this process as they are able to use their expertise to evaluate the services available worldwide and make recommendations according to patients’ specific needs.
Cancer is a condition in which cells in one area of the body proliferate and replicate uncontrollably. Cancerous cells have the ability to penetrate and kill healthy tissue, including organs. Cancer can start in one region of the body and spread to other parts. This is referred to as metastasis.
Cancer survival is one of the most important indicators of the efficacy of cancer care. Survival rates reflect both how well the system detects sickness and whether patients have quick access to adequate treatment. Diagnosis at an earlier stage of cancer development is related to better results and greater chances of survival.
Medically Reviewed By
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Lavrinenko Oleg