Definition / meaning of prevalence

The number of cases alive on a certain date.

Cancer prevalence is defined as the number or percent of people alive on a certain date in a population who previously had a diagnosis of the disease. It includes new (incidence) and pre-existing cases, and is a function of both past incidence and survival. Information on prevalence can be used for health planning, resource allocation, and an estimate of cancer survivorship.

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The Web site of the National Cancer Institute (

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