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Your doctor or nurse may use statistics when giving you information about cancer.
Cancer statistics are often used to:
Statistics are based on trends in large numbers of people. They are often used to help explain what the chances (probability) are of something happening. But they can’t tell you for certain what will happen to a particular person.
Statistics can sometimes help us to make decisions about which treatments to have. For example, if research shows that 3 out of every 4 people (75%) benefit from a particular cancer treatment, this means there’s a good chance it will be helpful to you, although this isn’t guaranteed.
Because cancer statistics are usually quite general, while you and your situation are unique, there won’t be any statistics that can say exactly what will happen in your case. Your doctor can help you understand how any statistics that they do use relate to your treatment and situation.
It’s not unusual for people to find statistics confusing and difficult to understand. If you don’t understand the statistics your doctor gives you, it’s fine to ask them or your nurse to explain them again, possibly in a different way. You could also discuss them with one of our cancer support specialists|.
Content last reviewed: 1 October 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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