Important findings

Diagnoses of thyroid, prostate, and testicular cancers had little or no effect on the average 5-year survival rates of Pennsylvanians. See Stage for more details.

Pennsylvanians who had Medicaid when they were diagnosed had net cancer survival rates close to those who had no insurance when diagnosed. These rates were much lower than the rates for Pennsylvanians who had private insurance or Medicare when diagnosed. See Disparities for more details.

Philadelphia and counties in the northeast and southwest parts of the state had the poorest net cancer survival rates. Central Pennsylvanian counties also had low rates, except for Centre County, where Penn State University is located. See Geographic for more details.

There were no substantially different findings compared to last year’s analysis.

Net cancer survival by primary site

Among adult Pennsylvanians (those aged 15 or above) diagnosed with cancer during the period of 2010 to 2016, the 5-year net cancer survival rate for all cancers combined was 64.6%.

With the exception of testis, and thyroid cancers, diagnoses of any of the major types reduced patients’ 5-year survival rate.

Figure 2: Five-year Net Survival Among Pennsylvanians, Aged 15+, by Primary Site

The primary sites with the lowest net survival rates were the pancreas (12.8%), liver and intrahepatic bile duct (17.8%), and esophagus (18.8%). Tobacco smoking has been shown to increase the chance of developing all three of these cancer types (American Cancer Society 2015).

The 5-year net survival rate for prostate cancer was 95.9%. This was because prostate cancer poses a very small risk of death if caught before spreading throughout the body, and most prostate cancers are diagnosed at an early stage. Other factors not accounted for in this estimate, such as affluence or insurance coverage, may have been able to raise the life expectancy of prostate cancer patients close to that of the general population.

While breast cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death (1,982 deaths in 2018), it has a high 5-year net survival rate of 88.9%. In contrast, the most common cause of cancer death, lung and bronchus cancer (6,771 deaths), had a 5-year net survival rate of 22.8%.