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J Clin Oncol. 2007 Aug 1;25(22):3274-80.

Recent major progress in long-term cancer patient survival disclosed by modeled period analysis.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Epidemiology & Aging Research, German Cancer Research Center, Bergheimer Str 20, D-69115 Heidelberg, Germany.



To disclose most recent trends in long-term cancer patient survival.


We estimated trends in 5- and 10-year relative survival of cancer patients in the United States in 1998 to 2003 from the 1973 to 2003 database of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program using recently introduced period-analysis modeling techniques that provide the most up-to-date and precise survival estimates.


Statistically significant and partly very substantial improvement in 5- and 10-year relative survival in the 1998 to 2003 period was seen for 14 of 24 of the assessed common forms of cancer, including breast and colorectal cancer. For example, by 2003, 5-year relative survival exceeded 90% for patients with breast cancer and reached levels of about two thirds for patients with colorectal cancer and kidney cancer and patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Unfortunately, 5-year relative survival remained essentially unchanged at approximately 16% for lung cancer patients, and, despite statistically significant improvement, as low as 7% for pancreatic cancer patients. Overall, improvement was most pronounced for patients with regional tumor spread and somewhat less so for patients with localized tumors, whereas hardly any improvement was achieved for patients with distant tumor spread.


Our analysis discloses further major improvement in prognosis for most, but not all forms of cancer in recent years. The largest contribution to this improvement comes from improved prognosis of patients with regional tumor spread.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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