Potential Years of Life Lost

Potential years of life lost is a population-based mortality indicator that estimates the number of years a person could have lived had they not died prematurely of cancer. To calculate the total years of life lost, the years of life lost from each person’s cancer death are added together. Tables from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics are used to determine the expected years of life. The total years of life lost is divided by the number of deaths to determine the average number of years of life lost per cancer death.

Some cancer sites have a large total number of potential years of life lost because a large number of people die from that cancer, such as lung cancer. Other cancer sites have a high average number of years of life lost per cancer death due to the younger age at which the cancer typically occurs, such as cervical cancer.



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