After Diagnosis: A Guide for Patients and Families

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How do I cope?

Am I going to die?

It’s normal to think about dying if you have just been told you have cancer. You may feel better knowing that the outlook for many people diagnosed with cancer is very good. Many people still believe that “cancer equals death.” But the fact is that most cancers can be treated. There are almost 14 million people living in the United States today who have or had cancer.

The survival rate among different cancers varies greatly, so it’s important to look at how well treatment works for your type of cancer. While numbers provide an overall picture, keep in mind that every person is unique and statistics can’t predict exactly what will happen in your case. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about your own chances of a cure, or how long you might survive your cancer. They know your situation best.

Sometimes people are found to have an aggressive or advanced cancer and are told that their future is not bright or that they might not be expected to live very long. This is very hard and is a lot to take in at once. The American Cancer Society has other publications that may be of help to you, such as Advanced Cancer or Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families.


Last Medical Review: 03/08/2012
Last Revised: 01/25/2013