What Does the 5-Year Survival Rate for Oral Cancer Mean?
Survival rates show the percentage of people who live for a particular length of time after learning they have cancer. The rates are specific to people with a certain type and stage of cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, diagnosing oral cancer at an early stage significantly increases 5-year survival rates.1
Often, statistics refer to this rate as the percentage of people who are living 5 years after diagnosis. The 5-year rate includes people at different stages:2
People who are free of disease
People who have few or no signs or symptoms of cancer
People who are receiving treatment for cancer
Because the statistics we have for 5-year rates are based on people diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago, it’s possible that the outlook could be better today. Recently diagnosed people often have a better outlook because of improvements in treatment.
Survival rates are based on large groups of people. They cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular person. No two people are exactly alike, and treatment and responses to treatment vary greatly.
1 “Oral Cancer 5-Year Survival Rates by Race, Gender, and Stage of Diagnosis.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. April 1, 2008. www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/OralCancer/OralCancer5YearSurvivalRates.htm Accessed 2010.
2 “Understanding Cancer and Prognosis Statistics: Questions and Answers.” National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, March 7, 2008. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/support/prognosis-stats Accessed 2010.