Most people with cancer, and the people who love them, are very concerned about the future. They want to know what to expect. Will they recover? Will their cancer respond to treatment? What if their cancer does not respond to treatment or it progresses?
A prognosis is the doctor's best estimate of how cancer will affect a person. Many factors can affect a person's prognosis. Survival statistics are one tool that doctors use to develop a prognosis for a person with cancer. Doctors often look at studies that measure survival for a particular type of cancer, stage or risk group, when developing a prognosis.
There are different types of cancer survival statistics and different ways to measure and report survival. In general, survival is the proportion of people with cancer who are alive at some point in time (such as 1, 3, 5 or 10 years) after their diagnosis.
Five-year survival is often used when talking about prognosis and survival.
Keep in mind that cancer survival statistics:
People with cancer should talk to their doctor about their prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:
Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis. Their doctor is the most qualified to answer questions about what the future might hold for people with cancer.
The Canadian Cancer Society provides helpful information about government income programs, financial resources and other resources available to families struggling to make sense of the personal financial burden they face.