3. Your Odds of Beating Cancer
Success in the battle against cancer is often measured in terms of the “five-year relative survival rate.” That rate is the number of patients who are still alive five years after being diagnosed, relative to the number who would be expected to survive if they had not come down with the disease. Five years might not seem like a lot, but it is, considering that 67 is the median age for diagnosis.
Below is a sampling of five-year relative survival rates for common types of cancer diagnosed between 1996 and 2004. These rates are calculated by the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program, which collects survival data from state registries covering about 26 percent of the U.S. population.
Survival rates have increased dramatically over the years, thanks to earlier detection and better treatments. The five-year relative survival rate for patients diagnosed with any type of cancer in 1975 was 50 percent; the rate jumped to 67 percent in 2000.
Bear in mind that survival rates vary widely depending on the type of cancer and the patient’s age, gender, general health, lifestyle and ethnicity. You can find more detailed statistics at http://seer.cancer.gov
Five-Year Survival Rates
Melanoma (skin) 91%
Urinary bladder 80%
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 65%
Colon and rectum 64%
Lung and bronchus 15%
4. Getting Support: Tips, Tools and Tenderness
You’ve just been diagnosed with cancer. Now what? First and foremost, do not try to handle this on your own. Allow family and friends to help, and find others in your situation to lean on.
- www.crazysexycancer.com: Carr’s Web site. Have questions? Want to dish? You can visit her online community, www.crazysexylife.com.
- http://berniesiegelmd.com and www.ecap-online.org: These sites of physician Bernie Siegel, author of Love, Medicine & Miracles and Peace, Love & Healing (both from Harper Paperbacks, 1990), offer info and tools based on the science of mind-body-spirit medicine.
- www.cancercare.org: Need a professional cancer assistant? Try the next best thing. This site is designed to help patients navigate their way through cancer—answering questions, finding help or just “listening” when they need to vent.
- http://nccam.nih.gov: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health provides information here on alternative and complementary therapies, discoveries and clinical trials.
- http://hippocrateshealthinstitute.com: Site of the Hippocrates Health Institute, a world-renowned healing center in Florida.
- www.mercola.com: An alternative medicine and education site.
- www.heardsupport.org: This site is specifically geared toward patients with hemangioendothelioma, the rare cancer that Carr has.
- www.livestrong.org: Site of seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.
- www.ulmanfund.org: Provides support programs and resources for patients and their families. Also helpful: a downloadable book penned by founders Doug and Diana Ulman.
- www.thechinastudy.com: The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, probes the relationship between diet and cancer and other diseases.
- www.cancer.gov: This site of the National Cancer Institute is a comprehensive source of state-of-the-art treatments and clinical trials (including a database of open trials).
- www.imtooyoungforthis.org: An invaluable source of support and research for survivors in their 20s and 30s and their families.
- www.cancersurvivorsunite.org: Camps and support programs for young adults with cancer.
- www.youngcancerspouses.org: A site designed to connect couples dealing with the ups and downs of cancer.
- www.cancerconsultants.com: Contains detailed, consumer-friendly information on the latest treatment developments.
- www.americancancersociety.com: This American Cancer Society site provides basic information, alternative therapies, ways to manage the disease, and support programs .
- www.oncolink.com: This University of Pennsylvania site offers key cancer info and pointers.
- www.cancerguide.org: A how-to on researching your disease, searching for clinical trials, and finding out about the latest traditional and alternative therapies.
- www.cancer.net: American Society of Clinical Oncology site provides oncologist-approved information to help patients make informed decisions about their health care.
- www.gildasclub.org: Named for Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer, this site provides a support network for patients and their families.
- www.thewellnesscommunity.org: The Wellness Community provides support and education for cancer patients and caretakers—and hooks them up with others going through the same thing. It provides info on local wellness communities and even offersa virtual wellness community in Spanish.