Prognosis and survival for oral cancer


A prognosis tells us how cancer will affect someone and how a person will respond to treatment. Many factors govern prognosis and survival. Survival statistics along with other information like medical history, the type and stage and other features of the cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can one’s doctor arrive at a prognosis. A prognostic factor is a characteristic of the person (such as whether they smoke) that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. The following are prognostic factors for oral cancer:

  • Stage
  • Tumour thickness
  • Margin status
  • Spread to nerves
  • Spread to blood vessels
  • Spread to lymph nodes
  • Location


Survival rate depends upon previous outcome of patients who were suffering  from disease, but it cannot be predicted what will happen in any individual’s case. Factors that may affect a patient’s outcome, are  patient’s age and health,  treatment received, and how  cancer responds to treatment. The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after cancer diagnoses. In order to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at patients who were treated for at least 5 years.

According to National Cancer Institute’s SEER program the following survival statistics for patients diagnosed of  cancer is divided into the summary stages:

  • Local: the cancer is only in the area where it started. This includes stages I and II, as well as some stage III cancers that haven’t spread to any lymph nodes.
  • Regional: the cancer has spread to nearby tissues and/or lymph nodes. This includes some stage III cancers, as well as stage IV cancers that haven’t spread to distant sites.
  • Distant: the cancer has spread to distant sites.

(Images Source: American Cancer Society)