Chance of surviving cancer on the rise

The chance of people surviving a cancer diagnosis is on the rise. 66 percent of people diagnosed with cancer in 2013 were still alive five years later, compared to 64 percent the year before, according to the Dutch Cancer Registry, NOS reports.

The so-called "five year survival" in the Netherlands increases by approximately 1 percent per year, due to better and faster diagnoses and treatments. When the Dutch Cancer Registry started keeping track of cancer patients in 1989, patients had a 42 percent chance of being alive five years after a cancer diagnoses.

The chances of survival increase particularly sharply for people with breast cancer, prostrate cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, and many types of blood- and lymph node cancer. "With esophageal cancer, the chance of survival was 8 percent in 1989, now it's 23 percent. That's impressive," according to the Cancer Registry. 

Patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or Hodgkin lymphoma have an 80 percent chance of survival. Which is why there is increasing focus on quality of life and problems people can have after being cured of cancer. 

The chance of surviving lung cancer - the most common type of cancer in the Netherlands - increased slightly for the first time since the Registry started this database. Until 2003, only 12 percent of lung cancer patients were alive five years after diagnoses. Now it is 21 percent. This has to do with faster diagnoses, as well as a new radiation treatment for patients who are not eligible for surgery.

On the downside, there's been little progress when it comes to the survival chance of people with gastric cancer, bladder cancer, and pancreatic cancer. In gastric cancer patients, the cancer is often already spread when the diagnosis is made, resulting in a poor prognosis. The advent of immunotherapy may offer new perspective for patients with bladder cancer, according to the Registry. People with pancreatic cancer still has the smallest chance of survival - only 5 percent of these patients were still alive five years after being diagnosed in 2013.