“Is Cancer curable?”
“Why is there no cure for cancer?”
“Can modern medicine cure cancer?”
As a medical oncologist, these are some of the most common questions I get asked on a daily basis. Despite decades of progress, the belief persists that cancer is an incurable disease. Social media is full of false claims and misinformation about people claiming to have found methods to “cure cancer” when it is already a curable disease!
Cancer is a highly curable disease
Hello, I am Dr Vineet Govinda Gupta, MBBS MD and DM (AIIMS New Delhi). I am a medical oncologist (cancer specialist) based in New Delhi, India. In this article we will discuss the cure rates of some common cancers.
What is the cure rate of cancer overall?
With proper medical therapy, it is estimated that two-thirds of cancer patients will be cured completely in the current era. Two out of three patients with cancer will be completely cured of their illness!
Because cancer is a disease associated with lot of societal stigma and hidden away from the general public, cancer survivors who live long healthy lives are often hidden away from wider attention. On the other hand, people hear more often about “deaths due to incurable cancer” which leads to the incorrect misconception that cancer is not curable and always causes death.
What is the cure rate of some common cancers?
Cancer is highly curable, if caught at the right stage. Common cancers like breast cancer, lung cancer, oral cancer, colorectal cancer, lymphoma (blood cancer) and testicular cancer are all highly curable diseases. However, it is important to be vigilant about cancer symptoms so that the cancer can be discovered at an early stage. Most of the “incurable” cancers are cancers that are missed and caught at a late stage when the disease has spread (metastasized) throughout the body. Below are some examples of 5-year survivals for some common cancers if caught at an early stage:
Breast cancer that is treated at the right time:
Stage I breast cancer: 98-100%
Stage II breast cancer: 90-95%
Even for patients with advanced stage disease, the survival has increased dramatically over time:
Lung cancer that is treated at an early stage:
Lung cancer is the most common cancer of men in Delhi and is a cancer where the prognosis has been dramatically improving. While lung cancer is unfortunately often discovered at an advanced stage, early detection is possible and associated with dramatic cure rates.
Stage I lung cancer: 80-90%
Stage II lung cancer: 55-65%
Lymphoma (blood cancers) that is treated at an early stage:
Lymphomas are among the most common blood cancers. There are a number of different types of lymphomas, which means that there are different prognosis for each of them. But let us take the most common type of lymphoma in India: Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). 3-year estimates for survival are:
Good risk disease (R-IPI stage 0 or 1): About 90%
Intermediate risk disease (R-IPI stage 2): About 80%
Testicular cancer prognosis:
Testicular cancer is among the most common cancers of adolescent boys and young men. It is a dramatically curable malignancy and cure rates even at advanced stage are typically more than 80%.
The idea that cancer is a disease without cure is an obsolete idea. In the modern era, cancers are associated with high cure rates when caught at early stages. Even advanced cancers have been showing dramatic improvements in prognosis over the years.
CANCER IS A CURABLE DISEASE
You can obtain more information about different kinds of cancer on this website and learn more about various treatment modalities of cancer. Some common cancers are linked below. Use the menu above to learn about different kinds of cancer.
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