Are 90% of deaths from cancer caused by metastases?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionDillekås HE, Rogers MS, Straume O. Are 90% of deaths from cancer caused by metastases?. Cancer Medicine. 2019;8(12):5574-5576 https://doi.org/10.1002/cam4.2474
Numerous publications have stated that metastases are responsible for 90% of cancer deaths, but data underlying this assertion has been lacking. Our objective was to determine what proportions of cancer deaths are caused by metastases. Population‐based data from the Cancer Registry of Norway for the years 2005‐2015 was analyzed. We compared all deaths in the Norwegian population where a cancer diagnosis was registered as cause of death. Deaths caused by cancer, with and without metastases, were analyzed, by sex and tumor group. For solid tumors, 66.7% of cancer deaths were registered with metastases as a contributing cause. Proportions varied substantially between tumor groups. Our data support the idea that the majority of deaths from solid tumors are caused by metastases. Thus, a better understanding of the biology of metastases and identification of druggable targets involved in growth at the metastatic site is a promising strategy to reduce cancer mortality.