5-Year Cancer Survival Rate Steady at 70%

  • By Kim Chul-joong

    January 01, 2022 08:22

    About 70 percent of Koreans diagnosed with cancer survive for five years or more, a steady rate even as the number of sufferers increases.

    According to the Korea Central Cancer Registry, 254,718 people were diagnosed with various cancers in 2019, up 3.6 percent from a year earlier and an increase for the fifth year in a row. About 2.15 million were undergoing treatment for cancer.

    The most common type was thyroid cancer, followed by lung, gastric, colorectal, breast, prostate, and liver cancer. Gastric, thyroid, and lung cancer have always been the most common, though the order can vary year by year. In 2019, lung cancer outranked gastric cancer for the first time since records began in 1999.


    The number of female cancer patients rose but that of male patients was down. The cancer incidence rate per 100,000 population among women increased from 290.8 in 2018 to 297.4, while that among men decreased from 308.7 to 308.1.

    Among women, the most common types of cancer were breast, thyroid, colorectal, gastric, lung and liver cancer. In 2019, some 24,000 women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer and about 23,000 with thyroid cancer.

    Some 9,629 women were diagnosed with lung cancer, accounting for one third of all lung cancer patients, and a surprising 90 percent of female patients were non-smokers. The Korean Association for Lung Cancer warned that even elderly people who do not smoke need to undergo CT scans to check for it.

    Among men, the most common cancer was lung cancer with 20,331 patients, followed by gastric, colorectal, prostate and liver cancer.

    But 70.7 percent of those diagnosed with cancer survived for five years or more. The cancer survival rate has remained steady at around 70 percent over the past five years. Men are now presumed to have a 39.9 percent chance of getting cancer and women a 35.8 percent chance if they live to 83, the average life expectancy at birth.

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