March of Progress in Cancer Treatment

I came across this today, and I thought it might give some people hope for the future.  The source is: Cancer Research UK, Survival Statistics for the most common cancers.

What really strikes me is the number of cancers where 5 year survival is over 50%.  Pancreatic, Lung and Esophagus cancer are still very deadly, though.

Now take a look at where we’ve come from since 1971:

You can see that many cancers have radically improved in 10 year survival.  There’s still much room for improvement, but I take a lot of comfort in the progress we’ve made and are continuing to make.

My postdoc was at a cancer research center that shared a building with a cancer treatment clinic.  Every day I’d walk past the waiting room and the chemo chairs and see someone’s mother, grandmother, father, brother, sister awaiting treatment.  It was great motivation to take my job seriously.  F–k Cancer, Support Cancer Research!

16 comments on “March of Progress in Cancer Treatment

  1. It’s funny that you showed all these impressive trends concordance with increased 10 year survivals, as if to imply our treatment has gotten a lot better, when the effect could simply be due to younger patients getting these types of cancers, and better detection tools.
    For instance melanoma rates have increased in younger people because of tanning, therefore if younger person get a cancer and is exposed to chemo he is less likely to die than an older person, because chemo has a lot of sometimes deadly side effects and younger patients have better immunity to kill cancer cells. Similarly, all the cancers which show dramatic increased survival rates are cancers which are diagnosable with ultrasounds, which have become widespread in the past 3 decades. Before the 1970s you would for instance have to diagnose testicular cancer by feeling it, now you can use hormones and ultrasounds to diagnose it in a much younger patient. Therefore what your data argues for is that these cancers are detected in younger patients, earlier stages, and/or increasing in younger patients, not better treatment.
    Is this website reason and science or conjecture?
    LOL!!!

  2. I note that your list includes NHL as a cancer.

    Pleased be advised that, to many sports fans in Canada, the National Hockey League is considered quite cancerous.

    • I wouldn’t worry to much about it if I was you – it’s one of the cancers with over 50% survivability!

  3. Me and my boyfriend watch your videos, and he in particular reads your posts, and I just wanted to let you know how much of a help you’ve been in increasing my awareness of scientific facts. Thanks for blogging via Youtube and this channel.

  4. C0nc0rance, can you tell me if these results are controled for age? Because there are now better diagnostic tools, cancers are detected in younger and younger patients, and younger patients have less co-moribidites, and therefore would be expected to have an increased 5 year or 10 year survival rate, irrespective of any treatment they are receiving.

    • I honestly don’t know, but I’m suddenly very interested as well.

      Brachytherapy? Implanting radioisotopes in the body for local irradiation.

      Earlier diagnosis with the rise of prostate exams?

      I’ll look into it later.

    • I hope it could be applied to other forms of cancer, like bladder (with that concerning dip). It’s graphics like those that make one want to go into medical research, although I’d rather stick to something I can do and donate to the people who are smart enough to solve that problem.

    • I assume it is a result of screening efforts. Due to screening tumours get detected earlier and harmless tumours get detected as well. So it is not necessarily only due to better treatment.

  5. Thanks for that post – my friend works in a cancer research lab so I showed him to remind him how important his work is.

    Also this post has prompted me to make a donation to pancreatic cancer research, because that figure has stayed so low. Is it known why this type of cancer has remained so stubbornly hard to cure?

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