Long-Term Survival and Causes of Death after Diagnoses of Common Cancers in 3 Cohorts of US Health Professionals

En Cheng, Dong Hoon Lee, Rulla M. Tamimi, Susan E. Hankinson, Walter C. Willett, Edward L. Giovannucci, A. Heather Eliassen, Meir J. Stampfer, Lorelei A. Mucci, Charles S. Fuchs, Donna Spiegelman

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Few studies investigated long-term overall survival and causes of death among men and women diagnosed with most commonly occurring cancers. Methods: We estimated long-term (≥30-year) overall and cause-specific cumulative mortality for men diagnosed with prostate (n = 6873), lung and bronchus (n = 1290), colon and rectum (n = 1418), bladder (n = 1321), and melanoma (n = 2654) cancer in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1986 and 2012 and women with breast (n = 18 280), lung and bronchus (n = 3963), colon and rectum (n = 3461), uterine corpus (n = 1641), and thyroid (n = 1103) cancer in the Nurses' Health Study between 1976 and 2012 and Nurses' Health Study II between 1989 and 2013. Results: We reported overall and cause-specific cumulative mortality of 30 years among men and 35 years among women. Among male cancer survivors, the 30-year cumulative cancer-specific mortality was 15.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 14.4% to 16.4%) for prostate, 83.5% (95% CI = 81.2% to 85.5%) for lung and bronchus, 37.0% (95% CI = 34.4% to 39.5%) for colon and rectum, 22.5% (95% CI = 20.0% to 25.0%) for urinary bladder, and 8.0% (95% CI = 6.9% to 9.1%) for melanoma. Among female cancer survivors, the 35-year cumulative cancer-specific mortality rate was 20.6% (95% CI = 19.7% to 21.6%) for breast, 83.5% (95% CI = 81.6% to 85.2%) for lung and bronchus, 39.6% (95% CI = 37.5% to 41.6%) for colon and rectum, 16.6% (95% CI = 14.7% to 18.6%) for uterine corpus, and 3.2% (95% CI = 2.1% to 4.3%) for thyroid. Except for lung cancer, most patients with common cancer were more likely to die from causes other than primary cancers. We observed 2 basic trends for cumulative cancer-specific mortality. The first is a sustained but nevertheless excess risk: Prostate or breast cancer-specific cumulative mortality continued to increase after diagnosis from 5 to 30 years or longer. The second is greatly diminished risk of index cancer-specific mortality following diagnosis 10 years or longer previously. For example, colorectal cancer-specific mortality increased by less than 4 percentage points between 10 and 30 or 35 years after diagnosis, and this finding also applied to lung, bladder, melanoma, uterine corpus, and thyroid cancer. Conclusions: Except for lung cancer, patients diagnosed with common cancers were more likely to die from causes other than primary cancers. Patients with lung, colorectal, bladder, melanoma, uterine corpus, or thyroid cancer surviving longer than 10 years after diagnosis are unlikely to die from that disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberpkac021
JournalJNCI Cancer Spectrum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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