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Flash Findings: Cancer Facts

OBTN, July/August 2007, Volume 1, Issue 6

A collection of cancer statistics and facts

Click here to view as PDF.


  • In the 1930s, about one in four cancer patients were alive five years after treatment.The five-year relative survival rate for cancers diagnosed between 1975 and 1977 was 51% and between 1996 and 2002 rose to 61%. Source: Cancer Facts and Figures 2007, American Cancer Society
  • In 1998, the estimates for overall annual costs for cancer was $107 billion ($37 billion for direct medical costs, $11 billion for morbidity costs, and $59 billion for mortality costs). Treatment of breast, lung, and prostate cancers accounted for over half of the direct medical costs. In 2006, the overall cost was $206 billion ($78 billion for direct medical costs, $18 billion for indirect morbidity costs, and $110 billion for indirect mortality costs.Source: Cancer Facts and Figures 1998 and 2007, American Cancer Society


  • Biotechnology companies spent an average of eight years and $1.2 billion to get a new treatment to the market, about 24% more than it cost makers of traditional drugs to develop a medicine. Source: Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University


  • Globally, there were 10.9 million new cancer cases last year, 6.7 million deaths, and 24.6 million persons alive with cancer (within three years of diagnosis). The most commonly diagnosed cancers are lung (1.3million), breast (1.2 million), and colorectal (1 million); the most common causes of cancer death are lung cancer (1.2 milliondeaths), stomach cancer (700,000 deaths),and liver cancer (598,000 deaths). The mostprevalent cancer in the world is breast cancer (4.4 million survivors up to 5 years following diagnosis). Source: Global Cancer Statistics, American Cancer Society


  • Breast cancer incidence in women has increased from one in 20 in 1960 to one in eight today. Most breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50, and women over 60 are at the highest risk. Source: Breastcancer.org, About Breast Cancer: Statistics, Causes, Symptoms, Surgery Options
  • From 2000 to 2004, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the breast was 61 years of age. Very few cases were diagnosed in women under the age of 20; approximately 2% between ages 20 and 34 years; 11% between ages 35 and 44; 22% between ages 45 and 54; 23% between ages 55 and 64; 20% between ages 65 and 74; 17% between ages 75 and 84; and 5% over age 85.
  • From 2000-2004, the median age at death for cancer of the breast was 69 years of age. Approximately 1% between 20 and 34; 6% between 35 and 44; 15% between 45 and 54; 19% between 55 and 64; 20% between 65 and 74; 23% between 75 and 84; and 14% 85+ years of age. Source: National Cancer Institute, SEER Cancer Statistics Review