Cured from Cancer?

OncoLink Team
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 7, 2013

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Question

At what point is someone considered cured from cancer?

Answer

Keith Cengel, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

That depends on the cancer. Typically, we have used 5 years for cancers of the lung or head and neck, but this is somewhat arbitrary. Other cancers, like breast cancer or certain lymphomas, have a pattern of recurrence that may extend for more than 20 years. For mesothelioma, this question is more difficult. The overwhelming majority of patients will eventually experience recurrence, so as an oncologist I remain vigilant for any signs, symptoms or radiographic evidence of the cancer returning. However, from the patient's perspective, I think the best outlook is that once you are disease free, maintain follow-up with your oncologist but mentally consider yourself cured until told otherwise and live your life to the fullest extent.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Mesothelioma transcript.