Is Stage 4 Cancer Terminal?

stage-4-cancer-terminal Credit: Richard Lautens / Contributor/Toronto Star/Getty Images

While the survival rates for stage 4 cancer are generally lower than for less-advanced cancers, there is often a statistically small but present number of survivors, according to Mayo Clinic. The survival rate varies depending on the type of cancer.

Five-year survival rates for many different kinds of cancers are tracked by The American Cancer Society. Stage 4 breast cancer, for example, has a 22 percent five-year survival rate, meaning 22 percent of people diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer live more than five years. With a more aggressive cancer such as pancreatic cancer, ACS lists the five-year survival rate as just 1 percent.

There are several different ways in which cancer survival rates are tracked, as described by Mayo Clinic. Some track whether the disease has gone into remission, while others only track if the disease is not progressing.