Life expectancy of colon, breast, and testicular cancer patients: an analysis of US-SEER population-based data

Ann Oncol. 2015 Jun;26(6):1263-1268. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdv131. Epub 2015 Mar 3.


Background: Cancer survivorship is an increasingly important issue in cancer control. Life expectancy of patients diagnosed with breast, colon, and testicular cancers, stratified by age at diagnosis and time since diagnosis, is provided as an indicator to evaluate future mortality risks and health care needs of cancer survivors.

Patients and methods: The standard period life table methodology was applied to estimate excess mortality risk for cancer patients diagnosed in 1985-2011 from SEER registries and mortality data of the general US population. The sensitivity of life expectancy estimates on different assumptions was evaluated.

Results: Younger patients with colon cancer showed wider differences in life expectancy compared with that of the general population (11.2 years in women and 10.7 in men at age 45-49 years) than older patients (6.3 and 5.8 at age 60-64 years, respectively). Life expectancy progressively increases in patients surviving the first years, up to 4 years from diagnosis, and then starts to decrease again, approaching that of the general population. For breast cancer, the initial drop in life expectancy is less marked, and again with wider differences in younger patients, varying from 8.7 at age 40-44 years to 2.4 at ages 70-74 years. After diagnosis, life expectancy still decreases with time, but less than that in the general population, slowly approaching that of cancer-free women. Life expectancy of men diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 30 years is estimated as 45.2 years, 2 years less than cancer-free men of the same age. The difference becomes 1.3 years for patients surviving the first year, and then slowly approaches zero with increasing survival time.

Conclusions: Life expectancy provides meaningful information on cancer patients, and can help in assessing when a cancer survivor can be considered as cured.

Keywords: SEER; cancer; cure; mortality; survival.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • SEER Program
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Testicular Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Testicular Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / mortality
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology