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What percentage of people with cancer are cured?

This is a more complicated question than it sounds. There are more than 200 different types of cancer and they are all different diseases. Some tend to be diagnosed earlier than others (and so may be easier to cure). Some respond to treatment better than others.

It can also be difficult to say whether a cancer has been cured because it can come back many years later. So doctors tend to talk about 5 year survival rates. This means the percentage of people who are alive 5 years after they were first diagnosed with cancer. Many of these people will have been cured. If cancer is going to come back, many types are most likely to return within 2 years of being diagnosed and treated. But some people included in the 5 year survival statistics will not have been cured because their cancer will come back more than 5 years later. 

For all types of cancer, the latest available figures are for 2000 to 2001. They show that 43% of men and 56% of women live for more than 5 years and so may be cured. 

The figures for children are much better. For many childhood cancers, nearly all the children are cured. This does vary depending on the type of childhood cancer.  The figures for all types of cancer show that just under 8 out of 10 children (78%) will live for more than 5 years after they are diagnosed.  For some types of childhood cancer, the figures are much higher than the average.  Overall 99 out of every 100 children (99%) diagnosed with retinoblastoma will live for more than 5 years. And for Hodgkin lymphoma 95 out of every 100 children (95%) will live for at least 5 years.

There is more about understanding cancer statistics in the about cancer section. If you would like more information about the outlook for a particular cancer choose your cancer type and go to the outlook and statistics page in the treatment section.

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Updated: 22 April 2013