Cancer survival: an overview of measures, uses, and interpretation

J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2014 Nov;2014(49):145-86. doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgu024.


Survival statistics are of great interest to patients, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers. Although seemingly simple, survival can be confusing: there are many different survival measures with a plethora of names and statistical methods developed to answer different questions. This paper aims to describe and disseminate different survival measures and their interpretation in less technical language. In addition, we introduce templates to summarize cancer survival statistic organized by their specific purpose: research and policy versus prognosis and clinical decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Life Tables*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Prognosis
  • Research Design
  • Survival Rate