More white people than black people survive 5 years or longer after being diagnosed with many common cancers. Better screening and treatment could help narrow the gap.

CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control led a special issue in the journal Cancer about cancer survival in the United States. The 10 cancer-specific papers in the supplement provide the percentage of people who live for at least five years after being told they have cancer. The numbers are grouped by—

  • Race (black people and white people).
  • State in which the person lived when he or she was diagnosed with cancer.
  • How far the cancer had spread when it was found (stage at diagnosis).
  • Kind of cancer: nine kinds of cancer in adults, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

CONCORD is a program for tracking cancer survival worldwide, based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It helps scientists find out why people with certain kinds of cancer live longer in some countries than others. The first CONCORD study was published in 2008. In 2015, the CONCORD-2 study was published in The Lancet, with data on more than 25 million cancer patients in 67 countries.

This supplement follows up on the CONCORD-2 study. It uses data from 37 cancer registries in the United States, covering 80% of the U.S. population. It is the largest study of population-based cancer survival to date in the United States. Public health agencies can use this information to help target early diagnosis and treatment services.

Key Findings

In the United States between 2001 to 2003 and 2004 to 2009—

  • At least 80% of women who got breast cancer, men who got prostate cancer, and children who got acute lymphoblastic leukemia lived at least five years after diagnosis.
  • Half to 80% of people who got colorectal or cervical cancer lived at least five years after diagnosis.
  • Fewer than half of people who got stomach, liver, lung, or ovarian cancer lived at least five years after diagnosis, although this percentage is going up.
  • There were large differences in survival between black people and white people for nine of the 10 cancers the study looked at.

Findings by Cancer Type

From 2004 to 2009, many more white women than black women survived at least five years after a breast cancer diagnosis (about 89% of white women and about 78% of black women). Find out how CDC is working to address the cancer survival gap at www.cdc.gov/cancer/healthdisparities/.

  • Breast cancer survival was high between 2001 and 2009, but there were wide and persistent differences in survival between black women and white women. Federal, state, and local agencies must work together to reduce racial disparities in breast cancer survival.
  • Colon cancer survival showed little improvement between 2001 and 2009. Five-year survival among black patients has yet to reach that of white patients who were diagnosed 15 to 20 years earlier.
  • Rectal cancer survival also showed little improvement between 2001 and 2009. There were persistent differences in survival between black people and white people.
  • Some progress was made in survival for patients with liver cancer, but five-year survival is still low, even for those whose cancer is found early and has not spread beyond the liver.
  • Lung cancer survival improved slightly between 2001 and 2009, but was lower among black people than white people. Making sure all patients receive timely and proper treatment would help reduce the differences in survival between states and lower survival among black people than white people.
  • Cervical cancer survival stayed at about 64% between 2001 to 2003 and 2004 to 2009. The survival rate for black women was lower than the survival rate for white women in both time periods.
  • Ovarian cancer survival was about 40% between 2001 and 2009. Large and consistent racial differences were seen in most states, and black women have lower survival than white women.
  • Prostate cancer survival was high (97%) for men diagnosed between 2001 and 2009, but racial differences were seen. The percentages of both black men and white men whose cancer was found early and had not spread beyond the prostate increased during this time. More than 99% of men whose cancer is found early live five years or more after diagnosis.
  • Stomach cancer survival improved slightly between 2001 to 2003 and 2004 to 2009. The differences between black people and white people are small.
  • In children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, survival for five years after diagnosis is high, but racial differences were found.

Articles in Supplement



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