Cancer recovery has no guarantees but doctors have been successfully treating some types than others. In other words, some cancers are actually curable. Generally, a person who stays cancer-free 5 years after a diagnosis has better odds of recovery. This doesn’t mean death from cancer is ruled out or even that you don’t still have it in your body, but it is still a good sign. Here are five cancers that can be cured.
Nearly 100% of people are alive five years after a diagnosis
Prostate cancer is one of the five cancers that can be cured. Chances of recovery are good because many prostate tumors grow slowly or not at all. When that happens, they aren’t harmful enough to need treatment. Many men with these types of tumors can live for years without problems. They often die of something other than their cancer.
A cure is however less likely when cancer spreads (called metastatic cancer). It becomes harder to treat. A small percentage of prostate cancers can move quickly to distant parts of the body. When that happens, just 28% of men live 5 years after they’re diagnosed. The good news is that doctors usually catch most prostate cancers early before they spread.
Screening: Digital Rectal Exam & PSA Test
Screening to check for prostate cancer does help in two major ways. One is the digital rectal exam when your doctor checks inside your bottom with a gloved finger. The second is a blood test called the PSA test, which measures levels of a protein that’s often higher in men with prostate cancer. PSA can go up for reasons other than prostate cancer, so some medical groups say men who have a normal risk for the disease shouldn’t get the test. Talk to your doctor about whether you need testing. Always let him know if you notice any problems like trouble urinating or blood in your urine. These could be symptoms of cancer other prostate problems.
Nearly 100% of people are alive 5 years after a diagnosis (depending on tissue type).
Thyroid cancer is one of the five cancers that can be cured. Chances of recovery are good because the most common type of thyroid cancer, papillary, grows slowly. Even when tumors are large or start to grow into other nearby tissues, doctors often can treat and even cure this disease with surgery that removes the gland. After surgery, people take medicine to replace the hormones the thyroid makes.
However, a cure is less likely if it is a type of disease called anaplastic thyroid cancer which has a 5-year survival rate of only 7%, but it’s very rare.
Check For Lumps Or Swelling
There are no recommended screening tests for thyroid cancer. Most people find out they have a tumor when they (or a doctor) feel lumps or swelling in their neck. Sometimes a doctor spots the problem when you get an ultrasound for another reason. Definitely tell your doctor if you feel a lump in your neck or if you have any symptoms such as trouble breathing or swallowing.
95.3% of people are alive 5 years after a diagnosis
The chances of recovery are good because in its early stages (when the tumor hasn’t spread to other body parts) doctors can cure this cancer with surgery to remove one or both testicles that have a tumor. If a man has only one testicle removed (which is the norm), the other will make enough hormones for him to have sex and father children. For later-stage cancers, surgery and radiation or chemotherapy often work well. Doctors credit the chemo drug cisplatin, introduced in the 1970s, with major boosts in survival rates for advanced testicular cancer making testicular cancer one of the five cancers that can be cured.
A cure rate is high because there are treatments that work well even for advanced testicular cancer. The 5-year survival rate for this type of tumor is 73%, still pretty good for cancer in the late stages.
There are no screening tests for testicular cancer. Men should see their doctor if they feel a lump in a testicle, or if one becomes larger than the other. These could be early signs of a tumor.
91.5% of people are alive 5 years after a diagnosis
Chances of recovery are good because you can usually spot melanoma skin cancer with the naked eye while it is still in its early stages. If it hasn’t spread beyond the surface of the skin, doctors can remove and cure it with surgery.
Though melanoma is one of the five cancers that can be cured, a cure is less likely if you don’t catch it early. Melanoma is much more likely than other skin cancers to spread to other body parts. Once it goes beyond the skin’s surface, it’s hard to treat. Only 15%-20% of people who find melanomas after they’ve spread to other body parts will still be alive 5 years after their diagnosis.
Check your skin for large, dark, oddly shaped, or raised blotches. It’s especially important to check your back and your scalp, scrotum, and in between your toes. It’s harder to see melanomas in these places. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any of these changes. He can tell you if the spot is normal or not. Get screened regularly by a dermatologist if you have a higher risk for melanoma, like if you’ve had it before or it runs in your family.
100% of people are alive 5 years after diagnosis in the early stages of 0-1
Modern medicine has improved the chances of recovery against breast cancer making it another of the five cancers that can be cured. Doctors know how to find and treat it. We are also in tune with the fact that breast cancer is not one disease but several with different medications to treat specific types.
A cure is likely when breast cancer caught early is treated before it starts to spread. Some types of diseases also have a high recovery rate than others. For example, a breast tumor that is “estrogen receptor-positive” will respond positively to drugs that lower estrogen levels. While “triple-negative” breast cancers are more aggressive and don’t respond positively to targeted treatments.
Screening helps. Regular mammograms can help you live longer. But medical professionals have different guidelines on when you should get them. Some recommend screening tests every other year starting at age 50 if you have a normal risk for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening tests starting at age 45.
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