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Cancer Causes Control. 2004 Nov;15(9):903-10.

Recent increase in cancer survival according to age: higher survival in all age groups, but widening age gradient.

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Department of Epidemiology, German Centre for Research on Ageing, Bergheimer Strasse 20, Heidelberg, D-69115, Germany.


A major increase in long-term survival of cancer patients in the 1990s has recently been demonstrated. It is unclear, however, to what extent this increase has been shared by cancer patients at various ages. Using the 1973-2000 data base of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results programme, recent increase in 10-year relative survival of cancer patients in the US was assessed for 4 major age groups and 15 major cancer sites by comparing results of a period analysis for the 1996-2000 period with results of a cohort analysis for patients diagnosed in 1986-1990. Period estimates of 10-year relative survival for all forms of cancer combined in 1996-2000 were 66.1%, 58.8%, 56.3% and 47.1% for age groups 15-54, 55-64, 65-74 and > or = 75 years, respectively. They were 7.4%, 10.4%, 7.8% and 3.0% units higher than the respective 1986-1990 cohort estimates for these age groups. The increase in 10-year relative survival strongly varied by cancer site, but it was generally less pronounced in older than in younger patients. We conclude that long-term survival expectations of cancer patients have increased in all age groups in the 1990s. However, for most common forms of cancer, the age gradient in survival has either persisted or widened.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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