Despite increasing global cancer deaths, cancer death rates across many types have been falling. This is partly attributed to earlier detection, and improved treatment: both of these factors have contributed to a significant increase in cancer survival rates across the world.
In the visual below we see the change in five-year survival rates (that is, the share of those diagnosed with cancer who survive at least five years following diagnosis) from the 1970s (1970-77) to 2007-2013 (this is the latest data available given the need for a five-year period). Overall we see that survival rates from all cancers have increased from 50 to 67 percent. This results from the combination of both early detection and improved treatment.
This change, however, varies significantly by cancer type. Progress in some has been very large: survival rates from prostate cancer, for example, have increased from 68 to almost 99 percent over this period. At the other end of the scale, five-year survival rates of uterus and cervix uteri cancers have actually declined since the 1970s. We still see major differences in survival rates overall: some, such as prostate and thyroid have a 98-99 percent five-year survival rate; those at the bottom of the spectrum (pancreas, liver, lung, & esophagus) have less than 20 percent probability.
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