Most medical students and residents have played this game of asking each other and themselves the question of – “If I have to have a cancer diagnosis, which one would I want?”

As morbid as it sounds, there are “good cancers” in other words, cancers that are easier to cure and survive, relatively speaking (especially when detected early on).

Most skin cancers, other than the dreaded melanoma, some thyroid cancers, blood cancers and certain breast, prostate, colon, renal cancers have high survival and “cure” rates (ie: living cancer free 5+ years). Even a rare type of stomach cancer can be highly survivable even when diagnosed at larger tumor sizes.

Good Cancer

Of course, no one wants the diagnosis of cancer, but in reality, most of us will face this diagnosis (one widely used statistic is 1 of 3 adults get a cancer diagnosis).

It is highly reassuring to know that cancer these days is less likely to mean a death sentence after months of wasting away. The good news is that the death rate has declined for almost every cancer and the overall treatments are much better refined and less toxic.

Combine that fact with great comprehensive care, good family and friend support, a strong will and a deep faith and your odds improve even more of beating this dreaded disease.

About the author

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Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol- doctor, wife, mom and maker PB&J!
One of my passions is to help people Embrace change, Try new things and be BOLD for a healthier and balanced life!


  • I totally understand what you’re saying- if you’re going to have cancer, there are certain types that are much, much easier to handle than others. Hopefully none of us will ever have to deal with it! 🙂

    • Well yes and because the skin happens to be the largest organ so there’s a lot more surface area to deal with.

  • I’d honestly hate to receive any cancer diagnosis. I’m not sure that I would ever call one a “good” one. That statistic of having a 1 in 3 chance of being diagnosed is terrifying and depressing. Now I’m sad. 🙁

    • Don’t be sad Tiffany. The truth is that the longer we live, the higher the chances of developing cancer. As the article pointed out, the good news now is that a lot of what was seen as terminal can be managed.

      Most of what counts in the statistics are skin cancers- squamous cell and basal cell (not melanoma) which are mere irritants at their best.

  • This is a weird spin on something that people find so scary. I think there are other ways to metaphorically compare to cancer: social cancers, environmental cancers, ethical cancers. I think there is little acknowledgment to the caregivers of cancer patients. We need to minister to the whole picture, not just the medical patient. Thank you for opening my mind today!

  • I have a couple friends battling cancer. I hope they are in the positive statistics. Such a terrible disease.

  • I definitely wouldn’t want to receive the news that I had any type of cancer but if I had to pick one I would probably go with skin cancer if they can just cut that portion off.

    • So true Danielle. Best case scenario is no cancer at all. Next best would be a “small fry” cancer.

  • Its amazing to me how many people I know have had some form of cancer! My mother in law has had breast cancer twice, my nephew Leukemia – not to mention friends I’m NOT related to! It is great though that the death rate has declined for almost every cancer and also fascinating that studies have shown that faith definitely helps people recover.

    • Your mother in law is one survivor! Your story of thriving with Cystic Fibrosis and lung transplant gets you an A.
      In spite of our best efforts, bad things happen in life. Faith & tenacity is what gets us through.

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