People often equate cancer with death. This is not surprising as cancer is the Number One killer in Singapore, with heart diseases in second place. Out of 17,140 deaths reported in Singapore in 2007, 27.7% died of cancer while 19.8% died of heart diseases (source : Ministry of Health Singapore).
The good news is that with recent advances in cancer research, the survival rates for cancer have improved over the years.
Survival by stage
The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Many of these patients live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis. 5-year rates are used to produce a standard way of discussing prognosis (chance of recovery). (http://www.cancer.org/)
Survival tends to worsen as the stage increases. The 5-year survival rates* for nose cancer patients in Singapore are believed to be as follows :
Stage 1 : 90-95%
Stage 2 : 80%
Stage 3 : 70%
Stage 4 : 50-60%
5-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago. So the statistics may no longer be accurate as improvements in cancer treatment may have resulted in a more favourable outlook for recently diagnosed patients.
No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. Survival statistics are useful as a general guide, but they may not accurately represent any one person's prognosis. A number of other factors, including other tumour characteristics and a person's age and general health, can also affect the prognosis (chance of recovery).
* Figures obtained from talk given at NPC support group in Apr 2009.
Ministry of Health, Singapore
World Health Organisation
American Cancer Society
Cancer Research UK