Sunday, September 21, 2014

Survival.

      What does survival really mean?  Most cancer statistics have a little disclaimer on the end, stating that they are the five-year survival statistics.  This is fine in many adults cancers, where the average age at diagnosis is in the upper 60s, and five years is longer than their average life expectancy.  But with childhood cancer, the average age is 10, meaning a child lives to be 15.  Is this really survival?  To most people, no, but this is the form the statistics take.  Five years.  That's it.
       The overall childhood cancer survival rate is about 80%.  However, since these are averages over all types of childhood cancer (over 100 kinds), they don't actually represent what these cancers are like.  ALL, the most common childhood cancer, has a survival of 87%, and retinoblastoma has a survival of 99% (keep in mind that the treatment is removal of one or both eyes).  However, the survival rates have a downward trend from there: Ewing's sarcoma is about 75%, AML and rhabdomyosarcoma have survival rates of about 60%, and DIPG is terminal upon diagnosis.  Not all cancers were created equal.


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