How would you translate the terms "survival" and "overall survival" as used in an academic/medical text, for example in the sentence "The new drug improved overall survival for ovarian cancer patients by 60 %."

I've been using "Überleben" and "Gesamtüberleben", but it sounds awkward. Does it need to be translated at all? Is there a standard or common usage for German medical texts?


3 Answers 3


In addition to use the technical term "Überlebensrate":

Das neue Medikament verbesserte die (Gesamt)überlebensrate aller Patientinnen mit einem Ovarialkarzinom um 60%.

What you could also use in another context, and if there is no statistical survival rate (in the given example the small but significant "by" indicates that this might be the case here - that's why I changed the numbers):

Mit der neuen Therapie überlebten (insgesamt) 20% aller Patientinnen mit einem Ovaralkarzinom.

"Gesamt-" or "insgesamt" translates to overall here.

  • a) Wo kommen die Frauen her? b) Was soll Gesamt~ oder aller? Die Überlebensrate aller Patienten stieg auf 100% (außer der toten). Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 12:41
  • 1
    @user unknown: patients suffering from ovarian cancer are very unlikely to be other than female.
    – Takkat
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 13:01
  • And why isn't this expressed in the english sentence? Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 13:06

I would go with "Überlebensrate" (rate of survival), which is the quota or amount of people that survive.

"Überlebenschance" (chance of survival) looks more elegant but is not used in the given context.

  • 1
    "...rate" or rate in english would be the correct translation for a percentage. I would definitely go with this answer.
    – Herr
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 7:15
  • I can see where you're coming from, "Überlebensrate" did sound better from the start. So yes, agreed with all the others. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 9:09

Das neue Medikament verbesserte die Überlebensrate der Patienten mit einem Ovarialkarzinom um 60%.

Die Rate der Patienten ist ja die Anzahl derer, die überlebten dividiert durch die Anzahl aller Patienten. Von 'Gesamt~' oder 'allen' zu sprechen ist daher Quatsch.

Abweichend könnte man von einer Steigerung der Überlebenschance je Patient um 60% sprechen.

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