Korean hospitals lead the world in terms of survival of cancer patients. The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs on Monday said the nation's five-year cancer survival rate has increased to 57.1 percent in 2003-2007 from 44 percent in 1996-2000. The rate describes how many patients are still alive five years after they are diagnosed.
The five-year survival rates for stomach, uterine cervical and liver cancers, the three cancers Koreans are most prone to, are 61.2 percent, 80.5 percent, and 21.7 percent, better than those of the U.S. (25.7 percent, 70.6 percent, and 13.1 percent) or Canada and similar to Japan's 62.1 percent, 71.5 percent, and 23.1 percent.
Survival rates for colon and breast cancer are 68.7 percent and 89.5 percent, similar to or higher than those of the U.S. (65.2 percent and 89.1 percent) or Japan (65.2 percent and 85.5 percent).
Survival for lung cancer is 16.7 percent, higher than the U.S.' 5.5 percent but lower than Japan's 25.6 percent. The rate for prostate cancer is high at 82.4 percent but far lower than the U.S.' 99.7 percent.
The average rate for all cancers is at 57.1 percent, higher than Japan's 54.3 percent but lower than the U.S.' 66.1 percent. The high average rate in the U.S. is attributable to the fact that the country has a higher proportion of prostate or breast cancer, where post-surgery recovery is faster than for others, experts said.
Park So-hee, a senior official in charge of cancer registration at the National Cancer Center, said the rate is higher the earlier cancer is discovered. Korea has high survival rates because an increasing number of hospitals diagnose patients at an early stage of cancer and doctors have improved their techniques, she added.