Cancer Survival: The Start of Global Surveillance

A large international cancer survival study called CONCORD-2 was published online in November, 2014 in the medical journal The Lancet. The CONCORD programme is led by the Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, United Kingdom. The goal of the study was to produce estimates of cancer survival across many countries that can be compared so scientists can begin to determine why survival differs among countries. This could lead to improvements in cancer control programs.

The study reports trends in five-year survival between 1995 and 2009 for close to 26 million cancer patients diagnosed with one of 10 common cancers: breast (women only), cervix, colon, leukemia, liver, lung, ovary, prostate, rectum, and stomach. It also reported survival for 75,000 children diagnosed with the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The data came from 279 cancer registries in 67 countries; 40 countries provided data with 100% coverage of the national population. In the United States, data from 44 cancer registries were included, covering almost 85% of the U.S. population.

In comparing survival between seven countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States), some highlights from the 2005 to 2009 period include—

  • Prostate and female breast cancer survival were highest in the United States.
  • Colon cancer survival was similar in the United States, Japan, and Germany, and lowest in the United Kingdom.
  • Lung cancer survival varied, with Japan higher than the other nations and the United Kingdom markedly lower.
  • Childhood leukemia survival was highest in Canada and Germany, and lowest in Japan.
Five-Year Survival Rates for Patients Diagnosed with Five Common Cancers in Seven Countries, 2005–2009
Country Female Breast Colon Lung Prostate Childhood Leukemia
Canada* 85.8 62.8 17.3 91.7 90.6
France** 86.9 59.8 13.6 90.5 89.2
Germany 85.3 64.6 16.2 91.2 91.8
Italy 86.2 63.2 14.7 89.7 87.7
Japan 84.7 64.4 30.1 86.8 81.1
United Kingdom* 81.1 53.8 9.6 83.2 89.1
United States 88.6 64.7 18.7 97.2 87.7

*Countries with 100% population coverage.
**100% population coverage for children only.


Allemani C, Weir HK, Carreira H, Harewood R, Spika D, Wang XS, Bannon F, Ahn JV, Johnson CJ, Bonaventure A, Marcos-Gragera R, Stiller C, Azevedo E Silva G, Chen WQ, Ogunbiyi OJ, Rachet B, Soeberg MJ, You H, Matsuda T, Bielska-Lasota M, Storm H, Tucker TC, Coleman MP; the CONCORD Working Group. Global surveillance of cancer survival 1995–2009: analysis of individual data for 25,676,887 patients from 279 population-based registries in 67 countries (CONCORD-2).External Lancet 2015;385(9972):977–1010

Page last reviewed: August 16, 2018