Incidence and Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis for Common Cancers

U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Briefs, No. 25
November 2021

This data brief uses the most recent data available at the time of publication. More recent data may be available in a newer data brief or in the U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Visualizations tool.

The U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Visualizations tool provides cancer statistics by stage at diagnosis.

When cancer is diagnosed, other tests are done to find out if it has spread through blood vessels and lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. This process is called staging. The type and stage of cancer tells doctors what kind of treatment is needed. Cancers that are found before they spread to other parts of the body are often easier to treat and have better survival.

CDC and the National Cancer Institute use a staging system called Summary Stage. Summary Stage groups invasive cancers as: localized (the tumor is only in the organ it started in), regional (the tumor has spread to nearby organs, structures, or regional lymph nodes), distant (the tumor has spread to parts of the body far from where it started), and unknown. Cases reported only by death certificate or autopsy are not staged. Urinary bladder cases diagnosed in situ (tumors are only on the innermost layer of the bladder lining) are considered invasive.

Sometimes researchers classify cancers, especially those found by screening tests, as “early stage” (localized) or “late stage” (regional and distant combined).

Figure 1. Average Annual Number of New Cancer Cases by Cancer Type and Stage at Diagnosis, United States, 2014–2018

Figure 2. 5-Year Relative Survival for Common Cancersa by Stage at Diagnosis.

5-year relative survival estimates the percentage of cancer patients who will have not died from their cancer 5 years after diagnosis.

aBased on cancers diagnosed during 2011 to 2017 and follow-up of patients through December 31, 2017.

Explore U.S. Cancer Statistics

You can use the Data Visualizations tool to explore and use the latest cancer data for—

  • Number and percentage of new cancer cases by stage at diagnosis.
  • Survival statistics (overall and by stage at diagnosis).

Researchers can analyze incidence data, including stage at diagnosis, with the Public Use Database. The information in this database can be analyzed using software developed by NCI’s SEER Program.

Data Sources

Data in this brief come from U.S. Cancer Statistics, the official federal cancer statistics.

U.S. Cancer Statistics incidence data are from population-based registries that participate in CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and/or the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and met high-quality data criteria for the 2020 data submission period, covering 99% of the U.S. population (excluding data from Nevada).

U.S. Cancer Statistics survival data are from 42 NPCR registries that met high-quality data criteria for the 2020 data submission period and conducted linkage with the National Death Index and/or active patient follow-up, covering 86% of the U.S. population.

Suggested Citation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Incidence and Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis for Common Cancers. USCS Data Brief, no. 25. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2021.