Survival Statistics Explained

A Deeper Understanding of Hope4Cancer's Survival Statistics

Most cancer patients, including those that come to Hope4Cancer, ask this vital question: “Will I survive my cancer diagnosis?” While it is natural to seek an answer in statistical data, it is important to know that these are simply averages that cannot foretell the different outcomes possible based on a patient’s specific health condition, outlook, or informed treatment choices.

Psychologically, we may sometimes seek hope in the numbers but, more often than not, statistics can have the opposite effect by making us “set a date on the inevitable.” It may help to understand that the numbers you see are not set in stone and, in fact, may paint an incomplete picture that can lead you to unnecessarily pessimistic conclusions about your “odds.” We encourage you to not fall into that trap, and here is why:

Most cancer survival statistical data are reported based on the organ affected (e.g., lung, breast, prostate, etc.) and a generalized measure of the extent of progression (localized, regional or distant/metastatic). However, there is a lot more to a cancer diagnosis that can determine your unique outcome. For example:

  • What is the nature of your cancer cells (based on histology reports)?
  • What does your medical history say?
  • Have you had any prior toxic therapies?
  • What is your immune and nutritional status?
  • What is your overall emotional and spiritual outlook?
  • … and so much more.

No two cancer patients are alike, and the path to their eventual outcomes may be far off the mark from what the statistics may suggest. In our experience, that path can be molded in the desired direction by following the concepts embodied in Dr. Jimenez’s 7 Key Principles of Cancer TherapyTM, and therein lies the true hope.

However, in recognition of the importance of survival rate data in the treatment decision-making process, we undertook a retrospective analysis of survival data from Hope4Cancer’s medical records (years 2015-2019). We compared this data to publicly available information in the SEER database published by the National Cancer Institute (NCI-SEER, website: https://seer.cancer.gov).

Please note that there are appreciable differences between the two datasets that you should consider in your evaluation:

First, NCI-SEER’s and Hope4Cancer’s datasets differ significantly in size. NCI-SEER surveils about 48% of the total U.S. population through its 21 regional registries, while Hope4Cancer is limited to patients treated at our two centers in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. Second, NCI-SEER is extensively funded with tax dollars and staffed by large teams of statistical researchers‚ resources unavailable at Hope4Cancer (note that individual institutions covered by NCI-SEER do not independently publish their data).  Finally, NCI-SEER leverages various government organizations to track each patient’s survival journey. In contrast, even though Hope4Cancer has dedicated patient follow-up and tracking systems, we do not require our patients to stay in touch with us—even though we highly encourage and recommend it. This can complicate the long-term tracking process from a statistical viewpoint.

To obtain a better understanding on the topic of cancer survival statistics, we highly encourage you to read an excellent article written by the renowned integrative physician, the late Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. entitled, “Statistics: Why Meaningful Statistics Cannot be Generated from a Private Practice.”

So, please know that statistics do not determine what lies ahead in your future—you do.  Through your well-informed daily actions and positive outlook, you can choose to improve your odds not only to survive longer, but to thrive with a high quality of life!

COMPARISON OF HOPE4CANCER AND NCI-SEER
5-YEAR SURVIVAL DATA

This analysis compares survival metrics for (a) patients treated with Hope4Cancer’s integrative cancer treatment protocols in our Tijuana and Cancun treatment centers in Mexico, with (b) patients receiving the oncological standard of care at U.S. hospitals and cancer treatment centers tracked in the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database (NCI-SEER). The oncological standard of care includes any or a combination of the following: chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery and, more recently, targeted therapies and immunotherapies.

The Big Picture:

What makes cancer a chronic disease with a high mortality rate? Over 90% of cancer-related deaths happen in cases that have metastasized, a stage of the disease that drastically lowers survival rates. Therefore, we will focus our attention mainly on the statistics for metastatic cancers in this analysis.

Figure 1 shows a comparison of 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER databases for metastatic (or “distant,” according to NCI-SEER) cancers of all types combined (i.e., breast, lung, colorectal, pancreatic, etc.). Hope4Cancer survival rates show a double-digit percentage advantage over NCI-SEER survival rates year-over-year, with a 23% difference observed in Year 3.

Figure 1. Comparison of survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) cancers of all types combined. [NCI-SEER data from SEER 18, Relative Survival by Stage (2011-2017); Hope4Cancer data based on the retrospective analysis of medical records between 2015-2019.] See Potential Errors from Hope4Cancer Study Methodology below for an explanation of “Hope4Cancer (Estimated)” data for years 4 and 5.)

Classification of Cancer Stages—Localized, Regional and Distant (Metastatic)

Survival rates from cancer vary significantly depending on the stage of the disease. The NCI-SEER database doesn’t use the Stages 0-IV classification that are more commonly used by oncologists. Instead, they use the more general classifications of “Localized,” “Regional” and “Distant” depending on the extent of invasion of the cancer into adjoining and distant tissues and organs (Figure 2).

For the sake of comparison, we classify:

  • Stages 0 and I cancers as “Localized”
  • Stages II cancers as “Regional”
  • Stages III and IV cancers as “Distant”

To allow uniform comparison, an additional field was added to the Hope4Cancer database to represent this staging classification.

Figure 2. Pictorial representation of cancer stages used by the National Cancer Institute.

Localized = local tumors that have not yet spread into adjoining tissue; Regional = local tumors that have spread into adjoining tissue and organs; Distant = cancers with metastases at distant locations from the site of the original tumor.

Figure 3 shows how 5-year survival rates for cancer patients undergoing conventional treatments drop rapidly as the disease progresses to more advanced stages based on NCI-SEER data.

Figure 3. 5-Year relative survival rates by stage of cancer patients from the NCI-SEER database. [NCI-SEER data from: SEER 18, Relative Survival by Stage (2011-2017)].

How to Meaningfully Compare the NCI-SEER and Hope4Cancer Survival Rates

As mentioned in the introduction, the NCI-SEER and Hope4Cancer survival rate datasets are very different from each other, and some assumptions were necessary to draw meaningful comparisons between them. Let us explore some of these differences:

a. Timeline of Data Collection and Stage Inconsistency

The statistical survival timeline of patients in the NCI-SEER database begins from the date of diagnosis. In contrast, the Hope4Cancer patient’s statistical journey in our database begins at the time the patient is admitted to Hope4Cancer, regardless of their date of diagnosis and oncological treatment history. The period from the date of original diagnosis to admission can span anywhere from days to years depending on how soon the patient approaches us for treatment.

Our most recent data shows that over 75% of our patients approach Hope4Cancer after their conventional treatments have failed, and their cancer has spread (Stage IV and above), with many showing significant progression from their original diagnosis.

This high ratio of more advanced cases creates challenges in accomplishing higher survival rates for Hope4Cancer compared to NCI-SEER.

b. Prior Exposure to Toxic/Damaging Therapies

Our data shows that 65-75% of our patients have a prior history of having received conventional treatments (such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, targeted therapies and/or immunotherapies). This medical history creates the additional burden of overcoming treatment-related toxicities, with a long-term impact on the body’s biological terrain.

As a result, instead of starting treatment at Hope4Cancer as a relatively healthy person who has been recently diagnosed, many of our patients start their treatment journey with us in relatively poorer health and with compromised immune systems, which may affect their longevity and quality of life.

Exposure to prior toxic therapies thus creates situations that can lead to lower Hope4Cancer survival rates compared to NCI-SEER.

c. Potential Errors from the Hope4Cancer Study Methodology

Key Exclusion Criteria.  To include only those patients who have gone through a required minimal period of treatment with the 7 Key Principles of Cancer TherapyTM, we developed some exclusion criteria.

Specifically, patients who:

  • did not complete their 3-week in-clinic program or their 3-month initial home program, or
  • whose status could not be confirmed

were excluded from this analysis. After a thorough audit, the exclusion of patients whose status could not be confirmed amounted to only ~10% of the total number of patient cases reviewed. However, we mention it here because it may have created a skew favoring slightly higher Hope4Cancer survival rates compared to NCI-SEER.

Estimated Results for Year 4 and 5. Hope4Cancer’s study was based on a retrospective 5-year snapshot (2015-2019) where the patient may have started treatment at any point within that window.  Due to the limited number of patient candidates for 4-year and 5-year survival rates within this window, and to maintain transparency, the data from those two years have been reported as “estimated” results (represented by white bars with blue stripes in Figures 5a-5g).  Hope4Cancer has since implemented a new patient survey system and ongoing medical record audits that are expected to help us track patient results more accurately over extended periods of time.

Please note, however, that we do not require our patients to stay in touch with us, although we strongly recommend it. So, despite our best efforts, there will always be a percentage of patients who we will not be able to track and include in our data analysis. Cancer registries tracked by NCI-SEER are required to maintain at least a 95% follow-up rate within the last five years of every patient diagnosed with cancer and have measures to ensure tracking of patients throughout their journey.

Our Data is Based on a Retrospective Analysis, not a Formal Clinical Study. Unlike NCI-SEER, the relatively smaller scale of our operation means that we are not equipped or do not have the regulatory resources to conduct a formal 5-year survival study. That being said, we are not aware of any significant individual treatment centers or hospitals in the United States or other advanced countries that individually publish their 5-year survival rates like we do.

d. Size of Database and Number of Data Points

NCI-SEER collects data from many regional registries (currently 21) in the United States that surveil about 48% of the total U.S. population. This massive data collection and analysis engine is completely supported by government tax dollars. Hope4Cancer data is limited to a much smaller number of patients who have received treatments at our centers in Tijuana or Cancun in Mexico. In many cases, the number of patients with a particular cancer type may be too small for us to offer statistically meaningful data. This does not mean our treatments in these cases are not successful and we encourage patients to review the many testimonials available on our website to better understand the nature of their expected journey.

5-Year Survival Rates for Specific Types of Cancer

a. 5-Year Survival Rates for Hope4Cancer’s Top 7 Treated Cancer Types

Figure 4 summarizes the 5-year survival rates (metastatic only) of 7 of the most common cancer types that account for almost 70% of the patients treated at Hope4Cancer. The 1- to 5-year survival rate data is expressed graphically in Figures 5a-g. These data clearly show that survival rates from Hope4Cancer significantly exceed those from NCI-SEER for each of these cancer types based on this analysis.

Figure 4. 5-Year Survival Rates for 7 of the most common cancer types treated at Hope4Cancer (metastatic cases only). Data from “SEER 18, Relative Survival by Stage (2011-2017)” (seer.gov), values rounded to closest whole number percentage

 

Figure 5a. Comparison of 1- to 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) lung cancer.

Figure 5b. Comparison of 1- to 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) breast cancer.

Figure 5c. Comparison of 1- to 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) prostate cancer.

Figure 5d. Comparison of 1- to 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) colorectal cancer.

Figure 5e. Comparison of 1- to 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) melanoma.

Figure 5f. Comparison of 1- to 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) ovarian cancer.

Figure 5g. Comparison of 1- to 5-year survival rates from the Hope4Cancer and NCI-SEER datasets for metastatic (distant) pancreatic cancer.

b. Estimated Survival Rates for A Few Less Common Cancer Types

This section provides survival statistics for a few less commonly encountered cancer types (other than the top 7 described above). As you review this data, please keep in mind that our smaller patient count for these cancer types reduces our confidence levels in the accuracy of this data based on statistical criteria. These data (Table 1) were derived from preliminary analysis and tracked for only two years (2015-2017). The comparative information for NCI-SEER is also shown.

Table 1. 2-Year Survival Rates for less common cancer types treated at to Hope4Cancer (distant/metastatic cases only).

c. “Why is My Cancer Type Not Discussed Here?”

In addition to the cancers mentioned here, we treat most other cancer types with a great degree of success made possible by the universality and holistic approach of Dr. Jimenez’s 7 Key Principles of Cancer TherapyTM. However, for these cancer types, we do not have enough patients to provide meaningful analysis from a statistical viewpoint, so we are not representing them here. Some of those cancers include but are not limited to esophageal, thyroid, bladder, cervical/uterine, and head and neck cancers, as well as sarcomas and glioblastoma.

Preserving and Improving Quality of Life

At Hope4Cancer, we believe that every day has tremendous value and, therefore, treatment success must be defined by more than just “survival.” The 7 Key Principles of Cancer TherapyTM provide the foundation for safe, non-toxic, integrative treatment protocols that target cancer cells and treat dysfunctions in the biological terrain that affect overall health and wellbeing. Combined with empowering education, our mission is to help our patients take back control of their journey and enhance their quality of life (QOL).

Conventional treatments tend to miss the bigger picture by primarily targeting the tumor, causing serious side effects that affect the patient’s quality of life, to the point where many choose to terminate their treatments earlier than recommended. In a study that included 464 lymph-node positive breast cancer patients on a multi-chemotherapy protocol consisting of five drugs, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Harvard University showed that discontinuation of treatment was strongly correlated with a decline in quality of life.1 Studies on tamoxifen have reported early discontinuations ranging from 15 – 50% of patients taking the drug because of the combined side effects.2-4

In our clinical experience, most Hope4Cancer patients demonstrate a visibly improved quality of life even after their first treatment visit. According to a quality-of-life assessment study conducted on 223 randomly selected patients with different cancer diagnoses, we found that over 70% of our patients demonstrated sustained or improved quality of life in all four categories—functional, emotional, social, and physical—as illustrated in Figure 6. Over 80% of this group comprised Stage IV cancer patients, making this data even more significant.

Figure 6. Improvements in quality of life of patients following three weeks of therapy at Hope4Cancer Treatment Centers.

In the coming years, Hope4Cancer will be collecting more extensive and descriptive quality of life data from our patients as part of our continued commitment to deliver the best possible care and improved outcomes.

Looking Past the Numbers

We attribute Hope4Cancer’s excellent survival statistics and quality of life data to our integrative approach combined with the willingness of our patients to make intelligent choices and get educated. With the help of the 7 Key Principles of Cancer TherapyTM, our goal is to help you overcome the odds that you may feel are stacked against you and tilt the statistics in your favor.

You should consider the patient stories found on this website as living evidence of people who have chosen to defy the statistical odds against them as they live their lives to the fullest—every single day. Many of them not only found a path to their healing but also became an inspiration – the substance of “hope” – to others.

Need more answers? One of our patient counselors will be happy to assist you with your questions. Simply fill out the contact form or give us a call. Please also take the time to read through the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do conventional treatments—like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery—not provide higher survival rates than those observed using Hope4Cancer’s integrative therapies?
Researchers have shown that the overall contribution to survival rates of toxic treatments such as first-line and adjuvant chemotherapy is minimal5; their simultaneous induction of toxicity has been compared to a “double-edged sword.” 6 Stimulation of cancer stem cell activity,7-9 declining immunity10 and induction of treatment resistance11 remain significant problems in mainstream oncological therapies as well. All these aspects disproportionately affect patients with advanced, metastatic cancers. Yet, the role of these treatments as the oncological standard of care remains largely unchallenged. That is why Hope4Cancer embraces the ideas of integrative cancer therapies based on Dr. Jimenez’s 7 Key Principles of Cancer TherapyTM, which provide a better opportunity for cancer patients to overcome the challenges of the disease.

 

Are Hope4Cancer’s survival rates better or comparable to those from NCI-SEER and other large patient databases?
As shown above, we estimate superior survival rates for Hope4Cancer compared to NCI-SEER. While we accomplish excellent efficacy in terms of survival, we also demonstrate significant improvement in patient quality of life. However, we would like to clarify that the methodologies of collecting and analyzing data for both datasets are quite different.  That is why we ask you to consider these comparisons as estimates only (please see Section 3 for details).

 

Why is my cancer not listed in Figures 4/5 or Table 1? What should I do if they are not?
The cancer types listed in Figures 4 and 5 represent the majority (almost 70%) of the patients treated at Hope4Cancer, based on medical records from 2015–2019. We have also included data in Table 1 for some of the less common cancers. If your cancer is not listed, it does not mean that we do not treat your cancer; it simply means that we did not have enough data points across the years to develop meaningful statistics.

We have designed our treatment protocols based on the 7 Key Principles of Cancer TherapyTM to treat ALL CANCER TYPES. Unlike mainstream treatments that target specific cancer cell types or seek to block certain biochemical pathways, Hope4Cancer’s methodology targets both the disease and its underlying causes. By working on normalizing the tumor microenvironment and stabilizing the body’s bioregulatory mechanisms, we go beyond simply treating the tumor. We also understand that ultimate healing happens at three levels—the body, the mind, and the spirit—and address all those areas as part of our treatment program.

As Dr. Jimenez often says, “We do not treat the cancer in the person, but the person with cancer.” So, if your cancer type is not listed, talk to one of our counselors to learn more about a personalized treatment plan specific for you.

 

Your statistics described here mainly discuss metastatic cancers. If I have early-stage cancer, would it be better for me to seek conventional treatments first?
We encourage you to approach us as early as possible from your time of diagnosis, allowing us to intervene at an earlier stage of disease development. You should also weigh the consequences of side effects from conventional treatment approaches on your long-term wellbeing. If you have already received conventional treatments, a Hope4Cancer integrative treatment program is a great choice to help you reduce treatment-related toxicity and manage side effects. At the same time, you can strengthen your immune system to protect from disease progression or recurrence.

If you have any questions, please request a free consultation with one of our patient counselors. Be assured that we fully understand and respect that your treatment choice is your personal decision—our goal is simply to support your due diligence efforts with quality information and recommendations. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

 

Do you not recommend chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery at all?

While we prefer to focus on non-toxic, natural treatments for most of our patients, in some instances, it may become necessary to recommend targeted conventional approaches to accomplish specific goals. As an integrative cancer treatment center, we are equipped to provide chemotherapy, which we do in low doses, as needed. We can also refer patients to licensed providers who specialize in radiotherapy and surgery. Any conventional treatment recommendations are made in the patient’s best interest as part of an overall integrative treatment strategy agreed upon by the medical team. We find that sometimes the benefit from a conventional treatment can help us get the patient to where our non-toxic approaches can become more effective.

 

Can you send me more details of your statistical analysis?

We appreciate your interest, but we cannot accommodate further information outside what is publicly posted here for legal reasons.

 

References:

  1. Richardson LC, Wang W, Hartzema AG, Wagner S. The role of health-related quality of life in early discontinuation of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Breast J. Nov-Dec 2007;13(6):581-7. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4741.2007.00512.x
  2. Henry NL, Azzouz F, Desta Z, et al. Predictors of Aromatase Inhibitor Discontinuation as a Result of Treatment-Emergent Symptoms in Early-Stage Breast Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2012-03-20 2012;30(9):936-942. doi:10.1200/jco.2011.38.0261
  3. Hershman DL, Kushi LH, Shao T, et al. Early Discontinuation and Nonadherence to Adjuvant Hormonal Therapy in a Cohort of 8,769 Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2010-09-20 2010;28(27):4120-4128. doi:10.1200/jco.2009.25.9655
  4. Pan H, Gray R, Braybrooke J, et al. 20-Year Risks of Breast-Cancer Recurrence after Stopping Endocrine Therapy at 5 Years. New England Journal of Medicine. 2017-11-09 2017;377(19):1836-1846. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1701830
  5. Morgan G, Ward R, Barton M. The contribution of cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adult malignancies. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). Dec 2004;16(8):549-60. doi:10.1016/j.clon.2004.06.007
  6. Sulciner ML, Serhan CN, Gilligan MM, et al. Resolvins suppress tumor growth and enhance cancer therapy. J Exp Med. Jan 2 2018;215(1):115-140. doi:10.1084/jem.20170681
  7. Lagadec C, Vlashi E, Della Donna L, Dekmezian C, Pajonk F. Radiation-induced reprogramming of breast cancer cells. Stem Cells. May 2012;30(5):833-44. doi:10.1002/stem.1058
  8. Lagadec C, Vlashi E, Alhiyari Y, Phillips TM, Bochkur Dratver M, Pajonk F. Radiation-induced Notch signaling in breast cancer stem cells. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. Nov 1 2013;87(3):609-18. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.06.2064
  9. Lagadec C, Vlashi E, Della Donna L, et al. Survival and self-renewing capacity of breast cancer initiating cells during fractionated radiation treatment. Breast Cancer Res. 2010;12(1):R13. doi:10.1186/bcr2479
  10. Chidambaram R, Terunuma H, Balamurugan M, et al. Cell-based immunotherapy in stage IIIA inflammatory breast cancer with declining innate immunity following successive chemotherapies: A case report. Mol Clin Oncol. Sep 2017;7(3):493-497. doi:10.3892/mco.2017.1333
  11. Sun Y, Campisi J, Higano C, et al. Treatment-induced damage to the tumor microenvironment promotes prostate cancer therapy resistance through WNT16B. Nat Med. Sep 2012;18(9):1359-68. doi:10.1038/nm.2890

 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this webpage is presented for the purpose of educating people about Hope4Cancer’s experience in treating patients with integrative cancer treatments. Nothing contained on this webpage should be construed nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or making treatment decisions. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Should you have any health care related questions, please call or see your physician or other qualified health care provider promptly.

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