Metastatic colorectal cancer is usually called advanced or stage 4 bowel cancer in the UK and the statistics around the disease can be really scary.
- While early stage bowel cancer can have a near 100% cure rate, advanced disease only sees 7% surviving to 5-years. That’s a truly daunting prospect if you’re newly diagnosed, I know it was for me.
- But the statistics are overall observations of everyone with that diagnosis, they are useful data but only to compare between populations, for example looking at survival in different countries or even between hospitals.
- The good news here is that survival rates are constantly improving, when I was diagnosed stage 4 survival was 4% and within 6 years that’s almost doubled.
- But statistics don’t predict what will happen to us as individuals and they shouldn’t be seen as that so please be careful when reading this sort of info.
- Many of us are bucking the trend, I have a particularly aggressive form of this disease (fast growing and in multiple organs at diagnosis, RAS mutant and I’ve had 2 recurrences despite being on long term chemo), yet here I am, more than 6 years later I’m in remission with 2 consecutive scans showing No Evidence of Disease for the first time! And I’m not alone!!
Doctors will also tell you a ‘prognosis’, their estimate of how long you’ll survive.
- This can be helpful but it has to be seen for what it is, it’s an educated guess. Yes, it’s a well informed guess but it really should be seen as a target to beat rather than a sentence for when you’re going to die.
- I was told repeatedly that my oncologist couldn’t see ‘beyond 12-18 months’ but I kept beating the prognosis so now we’re targeting 10 years!
- Your doctors will always be happy to be proven wrong on prognosis!