# 10 doctors weighed in: What do cancer survival rates mean if youre told 5 years, for example? 10 doctors weighed in

Dr. Andrew Turrisi
5 doctors agree
In brief: Clinical trials for
Many cancers use the 5 yr survival for a benchmark.
As with most statistics from trials, they report on a group rather than individuals. 5 yr is no t a good endpoint for prostate: it needs 10 & 15 year data, but 5 yrs is often used with lung, breat and colorectal. These cancers comprise 80% of cancer.

In brief: Clinical trials for
Many cancers use the 5 yr survival for a benchmark.
As with most statistics from trials, they report on a group rather than individuals. 5 yr is no t a good endpoint for prostate: it needs 10 & 15 year data, but 5 yrs is often used with lung, breat and colorectal. These cancers comprise 80% of cancer.
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Dr. Barry Rosen
Surgery
3 doctors agree
In brief: Cancer-Dependent
It is very common to report survival statistics based on 5 and 10 yr anniversaries after cancer diagnosis.
These are very meaningful but somewhat arbitrary end-points since some cancers have a tendency to recur very early after diagnosis while others have the potential to recur even 20-30 years later. The line between remission and cure can sometimes be a bit fuzzy.

In brief: Cancer-Dependent
It is very common to report survival statistics based on 5 and 10 yr anniversaries after cancer diagnosis.
These are very meaningful but somewhat arbitrary end-points since some cancers have a tendency to recur very early after diagnosis while others have the potential to recur even 20-30 years later. The line between remission and cure can sometimes be a bit fuzzy.
Dr. Barry Rosen
Dr. Barry Rosen
Dr. Matthew Fero
Internal Medicine - Oncology
In brief: No crystal ball
Two very different questions are: 1) What are my chances of being cured? 2) What is my life expectancy? For #1, we often give the percentage of patients who were alive at some fixed time point (e.
g. 60% after 5 years). For #2, we may give the median number of years lived by previous patients. A median is the 50th percentile. It means that half of patients lived longer and other half shorter.

In brief: No crystal ball
Two very different questions are: 1) What are my chances of being cured? 2) What is my life expectancy? For #1, we often give the percentage of patients who were alive at some fixed time point (e.
g. 60% after 5 years). For #2, we may give the median number of years lived by previous patients. A median is the 50th percentile. It means that half of patients lived longer and other half shorter.
Dr. Matthew Fero
Dr. Matthew Fero
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