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Frequently Googled Questions: Cancer Statistics


Google - which cancer is most common


Get ready for a post answering some of the questions most frequently googled about cancer, focusing on statistics.


Which cancer is the most common?

Based on data from 2012, the three most common cancers in the world are lung, breast, and colorectal.

  • 1,825,000 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed worldwide in 2012
  • 1,677,000 new cases of breast cancer worldwide that year
  • 1,361,000 newly diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer globally in 2012

Inside the U.S. alone, things switch up a little with the three most common in 2013 being breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer from highest to lowest.

This changes yet again if you limit the geographic area to just Utah (where VLCM Foundation is). The three most commonly diagnosed cancers in 2014 were breast cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma--again, from highest to lowest.


Which cancer is the most rare?

In the U.S., some of the rarest forms of cancer occur in parts of the body most of us didn't know we have.

  • Cancer of the trachea and mediastinum - the trachea is the the airway through which air travels to the lungs and the mediastinum is a membrane between the lungs
  • Kaposi sarcoma - cancer that develops in the cells which line blood vessels and the lymphatic system
  • Cancer of the retroperitoneum - cancer that occurs in a part of the abdomen which is sectioned off from the rest by a membrane


Which cancer is the most curable?

'Cure' is perhaps still a strong word to use with cancer. The disease can become stable for long periods (meaning it's still there but isn't changing) or go into complete remission if all tumors that can be measured or tested for are completely gone for at least one month. Complete remission is not necessarily a cure; cancer could reoccur. There's still some debate about using that word.

However, some cancers are definitely more treatable or survivable. Researchers quantify this with a number called a 5-year survival rate. It's the percentage of patients who are alive 5 years after the date they were diagnosed or started treatment.

Some of the cancers with the highest 5-year survival rates in the U.S. are:

  • Prostate cancer (98.2% live 5 years)
  • Thyroid cancer (98.1% overall live 5 years - 95.6% for males, and 98.8% for females)
  • Cancer of the testis (95.3% survive 5 years)
  • Melanoma (91.8% overall life 5 years - 89.9% for males, 94.2% for females)
  • Breast cancer (89.6% overall survive 5 years - 83.3% for males, 89.7% for females)


Which cancer causes the most deaths? 

Deadly cancers anatomical model

 Some of the cancers with the lowest 5-year survival rates in the U.S. are:

  • Pancreatic cancer (8.5% overall survive 5 years - 8.8% for males, 8.3% for females)
  • Mesothelioma (9.4% overall live 5 years - 7.0% for males, 16.6% for females)
  • Liver cancer (17.7% overall survive 5 years - 17.5% for males, 18.4% for females)
  • Lung cancer (18.6% overall live 5 years - 15.5% for males, 22.0% for females)
  • Esophageal cancer (19.2% overall survive 5 years - 18.9% for males, 20.0% for females)







Which cancer kills the fastest?

Two types of cancer are infamous for appearing to kill quickly: pancreas and lung. The reason is because the cancers are often diagnosed at very late stages of the disease, at which point little can be done to treat them.


Where is cancer most common in the world?

World map of countries with highest cancer rates
Cancer occurs at the highest rate in Denmark. The 10 countries with the highest rates of cancer are:
  1. Denmark
  2. France (metropolitan)
  3. Australia
  4. Belgium
  5. Norway
  6. United States of America
  7. Ireland
  8. South Korea
  9. The Netherlands
  10. New Caledonia





5-year Survival Rates, CSR 1975-2015. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2015/results_merged/topic_survival.pdf#search=5 years survival rates 

Cancer. (2018, February 1). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer 

Cancer Statistics. (2018, April 27). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics 

Ellis, P. M., & Vandermeer, R. (2011). Delays in the diagnosis of lung cancer. Journal of Thoracic Disease. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2011.01.01

Managing Cancer as a Chronic Illness. (2016, February 12). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment/when-cancer-doesnt-go-away.html 

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/complete-remission 

Rare Cancers in Adults. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2017/cancer-facts-and-figures-2017-special-section-rare-cancers-in-adults.pdf 

U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Visualizations Tool, based on November 2017 submission data (1999-2015): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute; www.cdc.gov/cancer/dataviz, June 2018.

U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2014 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute; 2017. Available at:www.cdc.gov/uscs.

Wenner, M. (2008, August 25). What makes pancreatic cancer so deadly? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-pancreatic-cancer-gene-upshaw/ 

What Is Kaposi Sarcoma? (2014, August 8). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kaposi-sarcoma/about/what-is-kaposi-sarcoma.html 

Worldwide data. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/worldwide-data 

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