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Cancer survival rates can vary depending on several factors

Oct. 25, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Who survives cancer and why do some people survive it and others don't? There are many factors that influence cancer survival rates, including the type of cancer, stage at diagnosis, treatment given and other factors, such as country.

In general, survival rates are improving, although more so for some cancers than others. Survival rate can be measured in several ways, median life expectancy having advantages over others in terms of meaning for people involved, rather than as a more scientific measure.

The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer shows that overall cancer death rates continued to decline in the United States in both men and women, among all major racial and ethnic groups, and for all of the most common cancer sites, including lung, colon and rectum, female breast and prostate. However, the report also shows that death rates continued to increase during the latest time period (2000 through 2009) for melanoma of the skin (among men only) and for cancers of the liver, pancreas and uterus.

There are even more factors that can affect survival rate. Patients with cancer typically live longer in the developed world than those who live in less developed countries. And interestingly, researchers are looking at the relationship between survival and a patient's social support network. A new study just released indicates that having a partner who provides moral and practical support is beneficial in that it helps cancer patients stay compliant with treatment, which affects survival rate.

Healthy Habits 2013 is a partnership among Cabell Huntington Hospital, Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and St. Mary's Medical Center. We are a community working together to improve our health. Our goal is a simple one: to inform and encourage area residents on ways to improve their health. Join our conversation and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/healthyhabits2013.