National / Science & Health

Japan's 10-year cancer survival rate rises slightly to 56.3%, survey shows

Kyodo

The 10-year survival rate for patients who were diagnosed with cancer between 2002 and 2005 was 56.3 percent, a survey by the National Cancer Center Japan showed Tuesday, up 0.8 percentage point from the previous survey.

The five-year survival rate, covering those who received the diagnosis between 2008 and 2010, rose to 67.9 percent from 67.6 percent in the previous survey, which covered 2007 to 2009, the institute said.

The survival rates have been steadily rising since the late 1990s, the survey showed, apparently reflecting improvements in early detection technology and cancer treatments.

The 10-year survival rate was calculated based on data of 70,285 people who were diagnosed with cancer and received treatment at 20 medical facilities across Japan.

The five-year survival rate covered 140,675 patients at 32 facilities.

By type of cancer, the 10-year survival rate for prostate cancer was the highest, at 95.7 percent, followed by thyroid cancer at 84.3 percent and breast cancer at 83.9 percent.

Among the worst, pancreatic cancer had a 10-year survival rate of 5.4 percent, liver cancer at 14.6 percent and gallbladder or bile duct cancer at 16.2 percent.

As for the five-year survival rate, the figure for prostate cancer was 100 percent, while breast cancer and thyroid cancer saw survival rates of 93.9 percent and 92.8 percent, respectively.

Pancreatic cancer had the lowest five-year survival rate at 9.2 percent.

When examined according to disease stage, with cases grouped into four categories, six of the 18 types of cancer studied in the 10-year cohort saw a survival rate for the period of over 90 percent for stage 1, or early stage cancer. They included breast, colon and colorectal cancer.

But in stage 4, in which the disease had spread to other organs or other parts of the body, the survival rate for breast cancer was 15.9 percent and for colon cancer it dropped to 10.7 percent.

The 10-year stage 1 survival rate for liver cancer was 26.3 percent, and for pancreatic cancer it was 29 percent.

The survival rates are expected to further improve due to the development of new cancer drugs such as Opdivo, a drug that causes the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Such new drugs “will change the way medical treatments are selected and may have a great impact on the survival rates, too,” said Nobuhiro Saruki, head of Gunma Prefectural Institute of Public Health and Environmental Sciences.

An official with the survey team at the institute said it was necessary to create an early detection system to further improve the survival rate, as retired people tend to skip cancer screenings.