Expected survival life tables are used to calculate expected survival, representing survival for a comparable group of individuals free of cancer in relative survival and crude probability of death statistics. These life tables are available and distributed with the SEER*Stat software. They represent the expected probabilities of surviving the interval conditional on being alive at the beginning of the interval, generated from the general U.S. population data.

Starting in April 2018, there are two default sets of life tables: U.S. annual life tables and SES/geography/race annual life tables. The maximum age for the life tables is 99 (changed from 118 in the 1970-2007 life tables) because there is evidence that life tables for older ages are unstable.

  1. U.S. annual life tables for years 1970 through 2014:
    • These life tables are calculated using the U.S. Decennial Life Tables from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and smoothing methods, while the life tables for years 2001 through 2014 are from the NCHS Annual U.S. Life Tables. Different methods are used to calculate life tables for other races. See Documentation for the Expected Survival Life Tables for more information.
    • These life tables were the default for all databases prior to 2018. From 2018 forward, they are the default for databases that include diagnosis years prior to 1992 (SEER 9).
    • The life tables are provided by individual year 1970-2014, individual age 0-99 years, and race (White, Black, Other (American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander), All races for Other unspecified 1991+ and Unknown).
    • See Documentation for the Expected Survival Life Tables for more information.
  2. SES/geography/race annual life tables for years 1992 through 2013:
    • These life tables are available by mutually exclusive race/ethnicity groups: Non-Hispanic (NH) White, NH Black, NH American Indian/Alaskan Native, NH Asian and Pacific Islander, and Hispanics.
    • These life tables are the default for databases that do not include diagnosis years prior to 1992 (SEER 13, and SEER 18).
    • These life tables are recommended when producing statistics limited to 1992+, or by or for limited geographies, or if producing statistics for race/ethnicity groups other than All, White, Black.
    • A technical report will be available soon on the methods for calculating these life tables.

Neither set of life tables is recommended when producing statistics for Asian or Pacific Islander sub-groups.

Important information about calculating survival up to age 99 years:

  • Cases diagnosed at ages greater than the maximum age in the expected life tables were always excluded from the analyses. With the current life tables, cases diagnosed at ages over 100 years will be excluded.
  • Starting with the November 2013 data submission, some options in SEER*Stat survival sessions have also changed:
    • Cases that survive past the maximum age in the expected life tables are censored at the maximum age plus 1 year (100 years). This default can be turned off using the “Censor When Attained Age Exceeds Expected Table Max" option on the Parameters tab. It's important to know that the expected survival probability for the maximum age (99) will be used to represent expected survival for any age greater than the maximum age.

Current Expected Survival Files, 1970-2014

Files for the U.S. annual life tables for use with other statistical software are available below. These and the SES/geography/race annual life tables can also be exported from SEER*Stat through case listing sessions.

The 2009-2012 other race life tables were updated using revised intercensal population estimates.

Previous Expected Survival Data Files

Previous tables for 1970-2009 are available with ages 0-99. The 2001-2009 NCHS U.S. Life Tables used an older methodology.

An older set of tables are also available for 1970-2007 with ages 0-118, however, SEER is using the new tables now due to concerns over the stability of the older ages.