What is the Deadliest Cancer to Get?

Cancer is a condition in which cells grow uncontrollably and begin spreading throughout the body. Cancer can become deadly as cells metastasize and treatments can take a serious toll on a patient’s body; however, some cancers are more deadly than others. Whether you have deadly cancer or cancer-like symptoms, it is essential to understand the warning signs and life expectancies of cancer. Understanding cancer and its effects can help save and support a loved one or yourself. Lung Cancer Center has gathered a list of the five most deadly cancers.Bar graph displaying the four deadliest cancers by their estimated death rates

1) Lung Cancer – Why is Lung Cancer so Deadly?

The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking. Lung cancer is considered so deadly as many people are diagnosed during the later, more advanced, stages. Lung cancer symptoms are often common such as experiencing a dry cough, meaning lung cancer often goes undiagnosed for a long period of time. As people are diagnosed later in life, they have more limited treatment options, resulting in a greater number of deaths. Professionals estimate that there were over 235,000 cases of lung cancer and 131,000 deaths in 2021.

SEER Stage NSCLC 5-Year Average Survival Rate
Localized 64%
Regional 37%
Distant 8%
All SEER Stages Combined 26%
SEER Stage SCLC 5-Year Average Survival Rate
Localized 29%
Regional 18%
Distant 3%
All SEER Stages Combined 7%

Can You Treat Lung Cancer?

Depending on a patient’s diagnosis stage, their lung cancer treatment options can vary. If diagnosed during stage 1 or 2, lung cancer patients can receive surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or other targeted treatments. On the other hand, if a patient receives a diagnosis during stage 3 or 4, their treatment options dwindle. During the late stages, a patient may choose to undergo radiation or chemotherapy to relieve any symptoms.

How Deadly is Advanced Lung Cancer?

As lung cancer advances after stage 3, it becomes less treatable and more deadly. Lung cancer can be classified by the TNM system which displays survival rate by cancer stage, shown below.

TNM Stage 5-Year Average Survival Rate
Stage 1 60%
Stage 2 44%
Stage 3 19.75%
Stage 4 4.7%

Deadly cancers like lung cancer are very prevalent in the United States, therefore it is essential to understand the warning signs. Whether you are in stage 1 or stage 4, your life expectancy can vary depending on treatment and other factors such as age and diet. Lung Cancer Center can help you navigate the confusing cancer journey.

2) Mesothelioma – Is Mesothelioma the Deadliest Cancer?

Although mesothelioma is not the deadliest cancer, the odds of beating mesothelioma cancer are low. Mesothelioma has a 5-year survival rate of 11.5%, making it a very aggressive, deadly cancer. The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a natural mineral, used in products and homes for centuries as it is corrosion and heat-resistant. However, it is known to cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, coughing, and lumps under the skin.

SEER Stage Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma 5-Year Average Survival Rate
Localized 20%
Regional 16%
Distant 8%
All SEER Stages Combined 12%

Are There Any Mesothelioma Treatment Options?

The treatment options for mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. However, treatment is typically influenced by the location and stage of mesothelioma as it can occur in the ling of the abdomen, heart, and testicles. If mesothelioma tumors have spread to surrounding body parts, the treatment plan may become more intense.

3) Colorectal Cancer – How Fatal is Colorectal Cancer?

In 2021, professionals estimate there were over 149,500 cases of colorectal cancer and 52,980 deaths. There are very few symptoms of colorectal cancer, making it difficult to catch early. If caught early, the prognosis is promising, with a 90% survival rate. A patient’s chance of colon cancer increases with age but factors like inactivity, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and obesity can contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

SEER Stage 5-Year Average Survival Rate
Localized 91%
Regional 72%
Distant 14%
All SEER Stages Combined 64%

What Are the Treatment Options for Colon Cancer?

Doctors can detect and treat colon cancer with a colonoscopy during the early stages. During a colonoscopy, doctors can remove small tumors. However, if a patient has a larger tumor, they will need to receive surgery. Surgery is typically paired with chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy to help shrink tumors and limit metastasis.

4) Breast Cancer – What Is the Survival Rate of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is caused by cancer cells in the lining of the lobules or ducts of the breast. Although more common in women, breast cancer can occur in both men and women. In 2021, the estimated cases of female breast cancer added up to 281,550 while only 2,650 cases were presenting men, respectively. There were 43,600 breast cancer deaths in women and 530 deaths in men in 2021.

SEER Stage 5-Year Average Survival Rate
Localized* 99%
Regional 86%
Distant 29%
All SEER Stages Combined 90%

*Localized stage only includes invasive cancer, and does not include ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

What Is the Most Common Form of Treatment for Breast Cancer?

The most common forms of breast cancer treatment are mastectomies and lumpectomies – both forms of surgery. A mastectomy is an extensive form of breast surgery, removing the entire breast, whereas a lumpectomy conserves breast tissue and removes only the tumor from the breast. In addition to surgery, doctors often treat breast cancer with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapies, and targeted therapies.

5) Pancreatic Cancer – How Deadly is Pancreatic Cancer?

The primary risk factor for pancreatic cancer is the use of tobacco and smoking, accounting for 25% of cases. The risk for pancreatic cancer doubles for those who smoke, compared to those who have never smoked. Other contributing risk factors include obesity, diabetes, exposure to chemicals like those in rubber, and chronic pancreatitis. In 2021, it is estimated that there were 60,430 cases of pancreatic cancer and 48,220 deaths. Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include stomach pain, bleeding, and blocked bile ducts.

SEER Stage 5-Year Average Survival Rate
Localized 42%
Regional 14%
Distant 3%
All SEER Stages Combined 11%

How is Pancreatic Cancer Treated?

Because there are not any reliable screening tests for pancreatic cancer, people with a higher risk should have regular MRI and CT imaging tests. Common treatments for pancreatic cancer include surgery and chemotherapy; however, surgery is only possible in 10% to 20% of cases.

Which Cancer has the Highest Survival Rate?

Prostate cancer is the easiest cancer to survive, with a 99% 5-year survival rate, provided it is diagnosed in its early stages. Additionally, the 15-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 95%. Doctors regularly screen for prostate cancer, meaning that patients often receive a diagnosis early on.

What Should I Do If I’m Experiencing Cancer Symptoms?

If you or a loved one are experiencing cancer symptoms, we recommend that you connect with a medical professional to understand your diagnosis. Additionally, if you have been diagnosed with cancer, we understand the flood of emotions you are likely feeling. If you would like to learn more about your cancer due to smoking effects or other exposure, you can access further information through Lung Cancer Center.