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5-year survival rate for cancer in Japan tops 62 percent

The five-year survival rate of cancer patients in 21 prefectures in Japan who were diagnosed with cancer between 2006 and 2008 stood at 62.1 percent, a research team of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced on July 22.

The figure was 3.5 points higher than during a previous survey covering people diagnosed between 2003 and 2005. By gender, the five-year survival rate was 59.1 percent for men and 66.0 percent for women. It is believed that the figures for breast cancer, which has a relatively high survival rate, pushed up the overall figure for women.

The research team, led by Tomohiro Matsuda of the National Cancer Center, targeted approximately 640,000 people from 21 prefectures, including Miyagi, Kanagawa, Osaka and Nagasaki, which had collected information on almost all cancer patients. The previous survey covered seven prefectures. As the survey results include figures for patients at all cancer stages, it is believed they closely reflect the actual situation.

An increase in the number of patients with cancers that have relatively high survival rates, such as prostate cancer and breast cancer, and improvements in treatment methods are believed to have pushed up the survival rate. The cancers with the highest survival rates for men were prostate cancer, skin cancer, bladder cancer, and throat cancer, while for women, cancers with higher survival rates included thyroid cancer, breast cancer, cancer of the uterus, and throat cancer. Pancreatic, gall bladder and bile duct cancer had low survival rates among both men and women.

For lung cancer, the survival rate was 16 percentage points lower for men than for women. When it came to bladder cancer, however, the survival rate was 12 percentage points lower for women.

"It's thought that this is because the smoking rate is high for men, and lung cancer influenced by cigarette smoke is common, while there is a tendency for bladder cancer to be discovered later in women," Matsuda said.

The statistics, in Japanese, are available online at:

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