Life expectancy is a significant indicator of future mortality risk and additional care in patients with cancer of the breast, colon and testes, according to a recent study published in Annals of Oncology.

Italian researchers led by Riccardo Capocaccia, MSc, of the Foundation National Cancer Institute in Milan evaluated SEER registry data of patients diagnosed with these cancers from 1985 to 2011 in relation to mortality data of the general U.S. population.

They found that life expectancy steadily increases in patients with colon cancer who survive the first four years after diagnosis, and then begins to decrease once more to that of the general population. Younger patients demonstrated wider differences in life expectancy compared to the general population.

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In patients with breast cancer, life expectancy still decreased steadily after diagnosis, but less than in the general population, approaching that of women who were cancer-free.

The researchers noted that life expectancy of men with testicular cancer at 30 years of age is estimated at 45.2 years, which is two years less than cancer-free men of the same age. The difference, therefore, becomes 1.3 years for patients who survive the first year, approaching zero as time progresses.

“Life expectancy provide meaningful information on cancer patients, and can help in assessing when a cancer survivor can be considered as cured,” the authors concluded.


  1. Capocaccia, Riccardo, et al. “Life expectancy of colon, breast, and testicular cancer patients. An analysis of US-SEER population-based data.” Annals of Oncology. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdv131. March 3, 2015.