By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
The outcome of prognosis of cervical cancer and most other cancers depends on several factors. Some of these factors include:
Stage of the cancer – the more advanced the stage of cancer, the lower is the chance of recovery or survival for 5 years - a 5 years survival after diagnosis is considered as a bench mark for efficacy and response to therapy
Aggressiveness of the cancer
Individual response to therapy
Age of the patient
General health and ability with withstand extensive surgery, radiation or chemotherapy
Stage of cancer and prognosis
Stage is the most important predictor of prognosis of cervical cancer. Survival rates are used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person's prognosis.
5-year survival rate
The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. It is possible that many patients may live for more than 5 years.
The survival rates look at deaths due to the cancer or any other cause as well within the 5 year period after diagnosis. For 5-year survival rates people who were treated at least 5 years ago are looked at.
With each passing year, new improved therapy and early diagnostic measures are increasing the possibility of surviving at least 5 years after diagnosis.
On average, the years of potential life lost from cervical cancer are 25.3 according to the SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1975-2000, National Cancer Institute (NCI). The ratio of deaths due to cervical cancer to incidence of the cancer in 2002 as calculated by SEER in 2002 in the United States is approximately 35.4%.
Figures suggest that cervical screening is saving 5,000 lives each year in the UK and two-yearly Pap tests can reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by up to 90% in Australia, and save 1,200 Australian women annually.
Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the cancer but cannot predict what will happen to a particular individual with 100% accuracy. This is the reason why some individuals may not want to know the statistics of survival for their cancer at all. Knowledge of survival rates is a personal choice.
Estimated survival rates based on stage of cancer
According to the National Cancer Data Base, those diagnosed between 2000 and 2002 had the following survival estimates:
Stage 0 - 93% 5 year survival rate
Stage IA - 93% 5 year survival rate
Stage IB - 80% 5 year survival rate
Stage IIA - 63% 5 year survival rate
Stage IIB - 58% 5 year survival rate
Stage IIIA - 35% 5 year survival rate
Stage IIIB - 32% 5 year survival rate
Stage IVA - 16% 5 year survival rate
Stage IVB – 15% 5 year survival rate
According to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, survival has further improved over the years when radiotherapy is combined with cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
After therapy all patients need to be regularly checked and followed up. This helps detect recurrent cervical cancer. At least 35% of patients with invasive cervical cancer have persistent or recurrent disease after treatment. Recurrent cervical cancer detected at its earliest stages might be successfully treated with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2012