Background: Estimated conditional survival for cancer patients diagnosed at different ages and disease stage provides important information for cancer patients and clinicians in planning follow-up, surveillance and ongoing management.
Methods: Using population-based cancer registry data for New South Wales Australia, we estimated conditional 5-year relative survival for 11 major cancers diagnosed 1972-2006 by time since diagnosis and age and stage at diagnosis.
Results: 193,182 cases were included, with the most common cancers being prostate (39,851), female breast (36,585) and colorectal (35,455). Five-year relative survival tended to increase with increasing years already survived and improvement was greatest for cancers with poor prognosis at diagnosis (lung or pancreas) and for those with advanced stage or older age at diagnosis. After surviving 10 years, conditional 5-year survival was over 95% for 6 localised, 6 regional, 3 distant and 3 unknown stage cancers. For the remaining patient groups, conditional 5-year survival ranged from 74% (for distant stage bladder cancer) to 94% (for 4 cancers at different stages), indicating that they continue to have excess mortality 10-15 years after diagnosis.
Conclusion: These data provide important information for cancer patients, based on age and stage at diagnosis, as they continue on their cancer journey. This information may also be used by clinicians as a tool to make more evidence-based decisions regarding follow-up, surveillance, or ongoing management according to patients' changing survival expectations over time.