Basic Cancer Survival Statistics

When you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, it's natural to want to know survival statistics. But it's important to understand that a statistic is just an approximation—it does not take into account factors unique to you. It cannot tell you precisely how long you or your loved one will live with cancer.

African American woman smiling in park
Peathegee Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Cancer statistics are collected by the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and by the National Program of Cancer Registries of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most Common Causes of Death

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease. The most common cancer in men is prostate cancer, but the most common cause of cancer death in men is lung cancer.

In women, the most common cancer is breast cancer; like men, the most common cause of cancer death is lung cancer.

Daily and Yearly Cancer Deaths

According to the NCI, an estimated 609,360 Americans will die from cancer in 2022. This equates to 1,669 people dying from cancer each day in 2022.

Five-Year Survival Rate

Approximately 68 out of 100 people (or 68%) diagnosed with cancer between 2011 and 2017 were alive five years after their diagnosis. Compared with White people, Black people had lower stage-specific cancer survival rates (rates of survival at a specific stage in cancer) for most types of cancer.

After adjusting for sex, age, and stage at diagnosis, compared with White people, Black people have a 33% higher risk of death, and American Indian/Native Alaskan people have a 51% higher risk of death.

It's important to understand that these statistics do not differentiate between people who are in remission—when signs and symptoms are reduced, either permanently or temporarily—and people who are still receiving cancer treatment five years after their cancer diagnosis. It simply tells us how many people are alive, regardless of their treatment, quality of life, etc.

Advances in cancer treatment made in the last decade may improve individual survivor rates. However, the scientific data have not caught up yet. Statistics examine a large population and take time to formulate.

In addition, these statistics don't consider that some cancers are detected in the early stages through screening tests. They might have gone undiagnosed in the absence of screening.

For example, some prostate cancers are detected early when a man would have never known about it, and cancer would never have led to his death. This means that the man would have lived anyway, regardless of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Summary

As cancer treatments have gotten more advanced and targeted and screening has caught cancers earlier, cancer survival has increased over time.

There are disparities between types of cancers and racial categories, and these need to be addressed. These statistics provide an overall picture of survival for cancer, but they don't take into account personal factors like age, race, family history, health, lifestyle, and treatment plan. While it can be good to keep in the back of your mind, it shouldn't carry too much weight.

A Word From Verywell

While basic cancer survival statistics can be helpful in understanding your cancer outcome, please approach them with caution and with the guidance of your healthcare provider.

Remember, too, that statistics do not take into account individual factors, which could positively or negatively guide your cancer course. So don't get too bogged down or confused about cancer numbers—speak with your cancer health team and focus on your therapy and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the leading cause of death in the world?

    Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world.

  • What is the leading cause of cancer death?

    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Originally written by Lisa Fayed
Was this page helpful?
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Fuchs HE, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2022. CA Cancer J Clin. 2022;72(1):7-33. doi:10.3322/caac.21708

  2. World Health Organization. The top 10 causes of death.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An update on cancer deaths in the United States.