That completely depends on the situation – different people’s bodies respond in different ways to cancer and to the various forms of treatment, plus it all depends on how bad the cancer is.
That’s really hard to say, because it varies enormously with the type of cancer. Some cancers are “benign”, which means that they don’t travel around the body and just need to be cut out – for example, “meningiomas” are tumors of the lining around the brain, which can be very big, but when they are discovered they can usually be cut out and cause no further problems.
The next issue is that for any given cancer it can be detected at a different stage. The earlier a cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat, which is why there are “screening” programs for several different types of cancer, particularly breast cancer and cervical cancer.
For breast cancer, Cancer Research UK has a good chart showing you how overall survival is improving over the years at:
Hi Harriett. That’s a good question and it is dependent on alot of factors. These include how quickly the cancer was diagnosed and found, where in the body the cancer is, how old the patient is . Doctors use the 5 year survival rate as a measurement of how likely a person is to be fine after diagnosis, but this is dependent on the issues I mentioned above. The most important factors are where the cancer is and how quickly it was found.
Cancer of the testicles has a survival rate of about 95% (95% of patients will survive) where as cancer of pancreas has a survival rate of only 3% (ie 97% will die from the disease).
So to try and answer your question – nobody can say – if the two people were the same age, have the same cancer and it was found at exactly the same time and stage, their survival chances would be nearly equal – BUT everyone is different and our bodies would react differently to the disease and the treatment so we don’t know.
I think the answer to this depends on the type of cancer and how early the cancer is diagnosed and treated.
I found a website which shows the survival for 8 different cancer types http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=861
I found this very interesting since my uncle is going through treatment for bowel cancer (unfortunately not one on the chart)