7 Hopeful Cancer Statistics Everyone Should Know

The fight against cancer is far from over, but we've made more progress than you might think.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

The rate of cancer deaths dropped 23 percent between 1991 and 2012

The cancer death rate peaked in 1991 at 215 cancer deaths per 10,000 people. After that, the rate started to drop steadily with fewer people smoking, improvements in treatment and earlier detection. The equivalent of more than 1.7 million deaths were avoided in those 21 years, according to the American Cancer Society. Still you’ll want to know the 9 cancer risk factors.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

More than 30 percent of cancer is preventable

By sticking to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, moderating drinking and not smoking, you can lower your risk of developing cancer. In developing countries, HBV and HPV vaccines could prevent as much as 20 percent of cancer deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

Cancer death rates for children decreased by 2 percent per year in a decade

Not only have kids aged 0-19 seen an annual decline in cancer death rates between 2003 and 2012, but adults have, too. Among men, cancer death rates decreased by 1.8 percent each year, and the rate for women declined 1.4 percent annually, according to the National Cancer Institute. These are the 50 rampant cancer myths you need to stop believing.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

The five-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed from 2005 to 2011 was 69 percent

Relative survival rate is the likelihood that a person with cancer will live for at least a certain number of years after diagnosis compared to the overall population. In 1975 to 1977, the five-year relative survival rate was just 49 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Advancements in treatments and earlier diagnoses of some cancers have improved survival.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

Caught in its earliest stages, the five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is almost 100 percent

The overall five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is 89 percent, and stage 0 or 1 cases are close to 100 percent. The American Cancer Society recommends women start getting yearly mammograms by the time they are 45 to help find breast cancer early. These are the 21 cancer breakthroughs scientists want you to know.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

The relative five-year survival rate for childhood cancer is more than 80 percent

In the mid-1970s, the five-year survival rate was just 58 percent, but new and improved treatments have led that number to rise to 83 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Five-year survival rates vary by the type of cancer. Leukemia, which used to be considered a death sentence, now has an 85-percent five-year survival.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

More than 95 percent of those with testicular cancer survive five years

The five-year relative survival rate is 99 percent when it’s localized—the stage in which about 68 percent of cases are diagnosed. Even in distant cases, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the rate is 74 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. Now learn the 14 cancer warning signs your doctor should never ignore. 

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.