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SCCA Survival Rates: Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the data for these charts come from?

The National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) is a joint program of the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society. The NCDB tracks the outcomes of 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer in the United States from more than 1,500 commission-accredited cancer programs and publishes this data in their NCDB Survival Reports. It has been collecting data from hospital cancer registries since 1989 and now has almost 29 million records. To learn more about how the data is collected and analyzed, visit the NCDB’s User Help Sheet

What does “five-year survival rate” mean?

Survival rate is the percentage of people in a group who are alive at a given time. Five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who are living five years after they were diagnosed with a disease, like cancer. In the clinical outcome charts, the percentage of people living one, two, three, four, and five years after diagnosis is displayed. These survival rates reflect death from any cause and it’s possible that some patients may have died from causes unrelated to their cancer.

How do I read these charts?

On each of the charts, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) patients are represented by the green line. Community Cancer Center patients, Comprehensive Community Cancer Center patients, and other Academic/Research Hospital patients are represented by the yellow line. The number of patients still living at a given time is represented by the percentages found on the left-hand side of the chart. Moving from left to right across the chart reveals the percentage of patients still living at one, two, three, four, and five years after diagnosis.

What cancer care facilities are compared in the charts?

The cancer care facilities compared include SCCA, Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals.

  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA)
    SCCA is a cancer treatment center that unites doctors from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children’s. It is categorized as an Academic/Research Hospital by the NCDB.
  • Community Cancer Centers (COMM)
    COMMs diagnose and treat up to 649 cancer cases annually and have a full range of services available for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Patients may need referrals for a portion of their treatment to larger medical institutions. COMMs make up just over a third of the hospitals participating in the Commission on Cancer (CoC) accreditation program.
  • Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers (COMP)
    COMPs diagnose and treat 650 or more cancer cases annually and have a full range of services available for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Patients may need referrals for a portion of their treatment as well. These facilities make up almost two-fifths of the hospitals participating in the CoC accreditation program.
  • Academic/Research Hospital
    Academic/Research Hospitals are associated with university medical schools and/or are designated as National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Care programs. These have a full range of services available for diagnosis and treatment of cancer and medical staff qualified by the respective major specialty boards. Academic/Research Hospitals make up almost one-quarter of the hospitals participating in the CoC accreditation program.

What is known about the patients included in this data?

Patients included in this data were 18 years of age or older at the time of diagnosis and were only diagnosed with a single cancer. The patients reported by SCCA received all or part of their first therapy from SCCA. Those patients who received treatment at other facilities before being treated by SCCA were not included.

Why does the data only go through 2005? 

The patients included in the NCDB Survival Reports were diagnosed between 2003 and 2005 and followed for five years. The last year for which survival data was collected was five years from 2005, that is, in 2010. SCCA will publish updated data as it becomes available from the NCDB.

Why are some cancer stages and types not reported here?

Outcomes data are not displayed for a given type or stage of cancer when SCCA reported fewer than 30 patients diagnosed in the particular category during the time period between 2003 through 2005. Survival rates calculated from small numbers of cases are not statistically accurate and may yield misleading results.

What do the survival rate charts not reveal?

The NCDB survival rate charts show the overall survival rates for groups of patients treated by SCCA and the three types of cancer care facilities; they do not display or predict survival rates for individuals. The survival rate data is not adjusted for factors that may affect outcomes like gender, age, or differences in cancer stage categorization among hospitals.