Conference Coverage

Many patients, doctors unaware of advancements in cancer care


Results of the doctor survey

The other survey presented at the meeting looked at how much doctors know about survival for 12 of the most common cancers.

Dr. Murphy and colleagues asked 301 noncancer doctors and 46 cancer specialists to estimate the percentage of patients who could be expected to live for 5 years after diagnosis (a measure known as the 5-year survival rate).

Answers from the two groups were compared and graded according to cancer survival statistics from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland.

Both groups of doctors had a hard time estimating the survival of common cancers.

Nononcologists accurately predicted 5-year survival for just two of the cancer types, while the cancer specialists got it right for four cancer types.

However, the noncancer doctors had a more pessimistic outlook on cancer survival generally and severely underestimated the chances of survival in specific cancers, particularly stage IV breast cancer. The survival for this cancer has “evolved considerably over time and now reaches 40% in Ireland,” Dr. Murphy pointed out.

“These results are in line with what we had expected because most physicians’ knowledge of oncology dates back to whatever education they received during their years of training, so their perceptions of cancer prognosis are likely to lag behind the major survival gains achieved in the recent past,” Dr. Murphy said.

A version of this article first appeared on


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