Doctors often use survival rates as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you don’t want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.
The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured).
Five-year relative survival rates assume that some people will die of other causes and compare the observed survival with that expected for people without the cancer. This is a better way to see the impact of the cancer on survival.
In order to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. Many other factors may affect a person’s outlook, such as your age and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your particular situation.
Survival rates, by stage
The survival statistics below come from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, and are based on patients who were diagnosed with testicular cancer (of any type) between 2003 and 2009.
The SEER database does not divide survival rates by AJCC TNM stage. Instead, it divides cancers into summary stages: localized, regional, and distant:
- Localized means that the cancer is still only in the testicle. This includes most AJCC stage I tumors (stage 0 cancers are not included in these statistics).
- Regional means that the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues. This includes T4 tumors and cancers with lymph node spread (all stage II cancers and some stage IIIB and IIIC cancers).
- Distant means that the cancer has spread to organs or lymph nodes away from the tumor, such as all M1 cancers (which can be stage IIIA, IIIB, or IIIC).
5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Other prognostic factors
As can be seen in the table above, how far the cancer has spread at the time it’s diagnosed can affect your chances of long-term survival. But in general, the outlook for testicular cancers is very good, and most of these cancers can be cured, even if they have spread.
Some other factors can also affect outlook, such as:
Ask your doctor how these or other prognostic factors might affect your outlook.
Last Revised: 02/12/2016