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The 10-year survival rate of people in Japan who were diagnosed with cancer in 2008 stands at 59.4%, the National Cancer Center said in a report Tuesday.

It was the first large-scale survey on the 10-year survival rate conducted by the NCC, which covered some 238,000 cancer patients.

“We were able to grasp the whole picture (of cancer survival) in the country” through the large-scale survey, an NCC official said.

The survey “indicated the necessity of long-term follow-ups, as survival rates of patients with some types of cancer declined beyond five years after they were diagnosed with the disease,” the official added.

The 10-year survival rate was calculated based on data from 237,892 cancer patients at 240 medical institutions across the country, excluding data of those who died from other causes.

The survival rate stood at 98.7% for prostate cancer, 87.5% for breast cancer, 67.2% for bowel cancer, 66% for stomach cancer, 34.5% for lung cancer and 21.8% for liver cancer. The rate was the lowest at 6.5% for pancreatic cancer, which is difficult to detect at an early stage.

The survey found that the survival rate of patients with liver cancer continued to decline after five years had passed since they were diagnosed with the disease, even though five-year survival is widely used as a benchmark for determining recovery from cancer.

The survey also showed that the survival rate tended to decline slightly after the five-year threshold among patients with advanced breast cancer.

Last year, the NCC said in a separate survey report that the 10-year survival rate of people diagnosed with cancer between 2004 and 2007 stood at 58.3%. As this survey covered only some 94,000 people at 21 medical institutions across the country, however, the NCC believes that a simple comparison cannot be made between the results of the surveys and that no judgment can be made about whether the cancer survival rate has improved.

“We want people to take (the survival rates) only as a reference,” Fumihiko Wakao, director of the NCC’s Center for Cancer Control and Information Services, said, noting that patients covered in the latest survey were diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago and had not received recently developed treatments.

Meanwhile, the five-year survival rate of 826,380 people diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and 2013 at 413 medical facilities came to 67.3%, showing an improving trend.

On Tuesday, the NCC launched a new system that allows people to check five-year survival rates by inputting cancer type, sex and age.

The NCC says that medical technologies are improving day by day and that the survival rates are merely for reference. The new service can be accessed at https://hbcr-survival.ganjoho.jp/.

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