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There are more cancer survivors living in more developed regions (17 million) than less-developed regions (15.6 million), although more cases are diagnosed in low- and middle-income countries. This reflects improved survival, related to higher rates of early detection and better access to effective treatment in high-income countries.

In countries at high or very high levels of the Human Development Index (HDI), the proportion of the population who are cancer survivors is much higher than in countries at low or medium levels, although the profile of such survivors varies by Index level.

Number of cancer survivors diagnosed within the past five years per 20,000 population among adult men and women (15+ years), by HDI for select cancer sites, 2012

Download High Res Text alternative: Number of cancer survivors diagnosed within the past five years per 20,000 population among adult men and women (>15 years), by Human Development Index for select cancer sites, 2012
Chart showing that in countries at high or very high levels of the Human Development Index, the proportion of the population who are cancer survivors is much higher than in countries at low or medium levels, although the profile of such survivors varies by Index level

Among women, breast cancer survivors make the largest contribution, constituting over a third of all those living with a cancer diagnosis.

Among men diagnosed in the past five years, over a quarter of all cancer survivors have had a diagnosis of prostate cancer, after which colorectal cancer (13%) and lung cancer (8%) were the most common sites diagnosed.

Among women, breast cancer survivors make the largest contribution, constituting over a third of all those living with a cancer diagnosis in the past five years. This is followed by colorectal and cervical cancers, each with 9% of the total.

Prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women are the most common diagnoses among cancer survivors.

Distribution and percent of estimated worldwide 5-year cancer prevalence by cancer site, in adults (15+ years), 2012

Download High Res Text alternative: Distribution and percent of estimated worldwide 5-year cancer prevalence by cancer site, in adults (15+ years), 2012
Two charts (one for men and one for women) showing the percentage of total estimated survivors by cancer type

“The story of cancer…isn’t the story of doctors who struggle and survive, moving from institution to another. It is the story of patients who struggle and survive, moving from one embankment of illness to another. Resilience, inventiveness, and survivorship—qualities often ascribed to great physicians—are reflected qualities, emanating first from those who struggle with illness.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies