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Listen: Cancer Survival Rates Up Among Californians

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Better detection and treatment are helping Californians live longer with cancer — highlighting the importance of cancer-screening procedures such as colonoscopies and mammograms.

Survival rates are on the rise for nearly two dozen different types of cancer, according to a new report by the University of California-Davis. The cancers with the most gains in survival include kidney, liver and some forms of leukemia. There wasn’t improvement, however, in cancers of the cervix, bladder or uterus.

Overall, 65 percent of people diagnosed with cancer between 2006 and 2010 survived five years or more from the time their disease was discovered, up from 58 percent for those diagnosed between 1990 and 1994, the study showed.

Several factors influenced how long people lived with cancer, but the most telling was how early the cancer was diagnosed. For example, 91 percent of patients whose cancer was diagnosed at stage 1 were still living after five years, while 19 percent of those diagnosed with stage 4 cancer were alive after that same period. Age also played an important role: Californians diagnosed younger had higher survival rates.

Despite the good news for cancer patients as a whole, researchers found stark differences in survival among different racial and ethnic groups. Whites generally fared the best, and African-Americans fared the worst. The research was based on data from 1.4 million Californians diagnosed with 27 types of cancer.

On Monday, senior correspondent Anna Gorman of Kaiser Health News appeared on KQED’s The California Report to discuss the study’s key findings (cue it up at 11:30).

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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