How Long Can Cancer Patients Survive?


cancer patient

It is not an easy matter for a doctor to determine how long a cancer patient will survive. Estimation of it are always based on the average results, while the individual particularities of each patient make these estimation never certain.

Experts generally use 5-year survival rates to estimate how long patients will survive cancer. This figure shows the comparison of the number of patients surviving 5 years after diagnosis.

The truth, as revealed by Dr Mark Porter, quoted from timesonline, Friday (2/4/2010), there are many variables that affect the patient’s ability to survive. Among these are patient’s age, general health condition, type of cancer, the level of malignancy and how extensive the cancer has spread.

For example, Dr. Poter called colon cancer. More than half of patients with this type of cancer survive 5 years later, most eventually be cured. However it doesn’t mean that the 5 year survival rate is 50 percent, because for some patients a greater chance of it and for others it may be smaller.

If colon cancer is detected at an early stage, surgical removal can  save 9 of 10 patients. Another case if cancer cells have spread to the tip of the spleen, 5-year survival rate would drop to below 50 percent.

In certain circumstances the survival rates is not even needed. In the 1980s, the colon cancer that has spread to other organs especially the liver is considered fatal. Estimated survival time of patients was just a matter of months.

But now advances in cancer treatment will have to change that estimate. Several recent studies have shown 5-year survival in severe cases of cancer today rose to 40 percent.

Some prediction error of opportunities for survival of cancer is also exemplified by Dr. Porter. A patient who  he predicted to die the next day,  still could attend a relative’s wedding a few weeks later.

Another example which he argued was the case experienced by the Lockerbie tragedy suspect, Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi. On August 10, 2009 she was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and it is estimated will only able to survive less than 3 months. But what happens, Megrahi is still alive until today.

Dr Porter stressed that although such predictions is needed to plan the next day, in the end both doctors and patients should remember that they could only guess.