November 27, 2015
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Cancer Detection (cont.)

What does the future hold for cancer patients?

Researchers are finding better ways to detect and treat cancer, and the chance of recovery keeps improving. Still, it is natural for patients to be concerned about their future.

Sometimes patients use statistics to try to figure out their chance of being cured or how long they will live. It is important to remember, however, that statistics are averages based on large numbers of patients. They cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular patient because no two patients are alike. The doctor who takes care of the patient is in the best position to discuss the chance of recovery (prognosis). Patients should feel free to ask the doctor about their prognosis, but they should keep in mind that not even the doctor knows exactly what will happen. Doctors often talk about surviving cancer, or they may use the term remission rather than cure. Even though many cancer patients can be cured, doctors use these terms because the disease can recur.

What resources are available to patients with cancer and their families?

Information about cancer is available from many sources, including the ones listed below. You may wish to check for additional information at your local library or bookstore and from support groups in your community.


The Cancer Information Service, a program of the National Cancer Institute, is a nationwide telephone service for cancer patients, their families and friends, the public, and health care professionals. The staff can answer questions in English and Spanish and can send booklets about cancer. They also know about local resources and services. One toll-free number, 1-800-4- CANCER (1-800-422-6237), connects callers with the office that serves their area.

1599 Clifton Road, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30329

The American Cancer Society is a voluntary organization with a national office and local units all over the country. It supports research, conducts educational programs, and offers many services to patients and their families. To obtain free booklets about services and activities in local areas, call the Society's toll-free number, 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345), or the number listed under "American Cancer Society" in the white pages of the telephone book.

Medically reviewed by Jeffrey A. Gordon, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialties in Medical Oncology and Hematology
Last update: 4/23/2002


American Cancer Society

Last Editorial Review: 4/23/2002



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