Cancer survival rate in the Netherlands improving

Cancer survival rate in the Netherlands improving

According to figures from the Dutch Cancer Registry (IKNL), the cancer survival rate in the Netherlands is improving – 65 percent of patients diagnosed with cancer in 2013 were still alive five years later. Of those diagnosed a year before that, only 64 percent were still alive after five years.

Steadily increasing survival rate

The so-called “five-year survival” rate increases by about one percent each year due to quicker and better diagnoses and more effective treatment. Back when IKNL started in 1989, the five-year survival rate was only 42 percent. The chances of survival have especially increased for breast, prostate, colon, oesophageal, kidney and many types of blood and lymph node cancers.

The types of cancer that now have a survival rate above 80 percent are skin, breast and prostate cancer, along with less frequently occurring cancers like testicular cancer and Hodgkin Lymphoma. The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is almost 90 percent, 27 percent up since IKNL’s first figures.

Highest survival rates

The cancers with the highest rate of survival five years after diagnosis are as follows:

  • Skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma): 94 percent
  • Skin cancer (melanoma): 92 percent
  • Prostate cancer: 89 percent
  • Breast cancer (invasive): 88 percent
  • Uterine cancer: 79 percent

Some areas show little progress

Whilst a great deal of progress has been made, increasing the survival rate for many types of cancer, little progress has been made when it comes to other cancers like stomach and bladder cancer. For these cancers, the survival rate has only gone up a few percent in the last 25 years.

For those diagnosed with stomach cancer, the prognosis is usually poor, as by the time cancer has been diagnosed it has often already spread. For bladder cancer, the introduction of immunotherapy offers new perspectives, according to the researchers. The type of cancer with the lowest survival rate is pancreatic cancer, at only five percent after five years.

Lowest survival rates

The cancers with the lowest five-year survival rates are as follows:

  • Pancreatic cancer: 5 percent
  • Lung cancer: 21 percent
  • Oesophageal cancer: 23 percent
  • Brain tumour: 24 percent
  • Stomach cancer (excluding cancer of the cardia): 25 percent

Most common type of cancer in the Netherlands

One of the most common types of cancer in the Netherlands is lung cancer, the cause of more than 10.000 deaths a year. The prognosis for patients diagnosed with this type of cancer has slightly improved, with the five-year survival rate now at 21 percent. In 2003, this survival rate was only at 12 percent. The increase in the chance of survival is down to earlier diagnosis and new radiation treatment for patients who are not eligible for surgery.

If you notice any lumps or other symptoms associated with cancer, it is important that you see your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can be treated.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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