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(Cancer survival chapter and data are adapted from the CONCORD-2 study and provided to the Cancer Atlas website by its authors.) 

In 2015, the CONCORD-2 study provided data on five-year cancer survival trends and inequalities world-wide. It is based on individual data for over 25 million adults (15-99 years) diagnosed between 1995 and 2009 with cancer of the stomach, colon, rectum, liver, lung, breast (women), cervix, ovary or prostate, or leukemia, and for 70,000 children (0-14 years) with leukemia (see interactive maps for stomach, colon, cervical, breast, and childhood leukemia).

The data come from 279 population-based cancer registries in 67 countries, and they show the very wide variation in cancer survival between different countries and regions of the world. Unequal access to health-care is a major cause of global variation in cancer survival.

Cancer survival measures the chances of a patient surviving for a certain period of time after diagnosis, often five years. The survival of all cancer patients diagnosed in a country (or region) – ‘population-based’ cancer survival – is an important measure of the overall effectiveness of the health-care system in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of cancer. Population-based survival figures are corrected for the risk of death from other causes than cancer.

Map, sort, and compare cancer survival worldwide in the Explore Data section>

Five-year net survival for children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia during 2005-2009 varied from less than 50% to over 90% between countries.

Worldwide surveillance of cancer survival is important for national and international agencies, including advocacy groups for cancer prevention and control, politicians and research agencies. The main goal of the UICC World Cancer Declaration 2013 is: “there will be major reductions in premature deaths from cancer and improvements in quality of life and cancer survival.”

Worldwide data for cancer survival were scarce until 2008. Three large international studies have been published since then. However, these studies differ with respect to population coverage, calendar period and the methods of data collection, quality control and statistical analysis. Therefore they do not facilitate worldwide comparison of cancer survival.

Continuous, global surveillance of cancer survival will become an indispensable source of information for cancer patients, advocates and researchers, a stimulus for politicians to improve health policy and health-care systems, and a key metric of overall progress in cancer control.

Five-year net survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer during 2005-2009 varied from 50% in South Africa to 85% or higher in 17 countries.

"What gets measured gets done."

Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization