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11 October 2002 News Update


Survival rates for cancer have been seriously underestimated, a new study suggests.

According to The Independent, for some cancers the number of people surviving 20 years is more than a third higher than had been thought. Overall, survival from all types of cancer is 11% higher over 20 years than previous calculations showed.

A new method, known as period analysis, takes survival rates in the early years and projects them forward giving a more up-to-date assessment of a patient's prospects based on current methods of treatment.

The findings, based on figures from the US cancer registry, show that with modern methods of treatment for all types of cancer an average of 63 % people will survive five years and 51 % more than 20 years.

Professor Hermann Brenner of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, who conducted the analysis published in The Lancet, said: "Cohorts of patients diagnosed many years ago had much lower survival rates throughout follow-up than those diagnosed most recently. Period analysis for 1998 suggests that the patients diagnosed with cancer most recently have very favourable long-term survival prospects."

"Provision of up-to-date long-term survival rates is not just an academic exercise - it could help to prevent clinicians and their patients from undue discouragement or depression by outdated and often overly pessimistic survival expectations."

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