BACKGROUND: Few studies have estimated the probability of being cured for cancer patients. This study aims to estimate population-based indicators of cancer cure in Europe by type, sex, age and period. METHODS: 7.2 million cancer patients (42 population-based cancer registries in 17 European countries) diagnosed at ages 15-74 years in 1990-2007 with follow-up to 2008 were selected from the EUROCARE-5 dataset. Mixture-cure models were used to estimate: (i) life expectancy of fatal cases (LEF); (ii) cure fraction (CF) as proportion of patients with same death rates as the general population; (iii) time to cure (TTC) as time to reach 5-year conditional relative survival (CRS) textgreater95 LEF ranged from 10 years for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patients to textless6 months for those with liver, pancreas, brain, gallbladder and lung cancers. It was 7.7 years for patients with prostate cancer at age 65-74 years and textgreater5 years for women with breast cancer. The CF was 94 870 866 66 63textless10 lung and pancreatic cancers. TTC was textless5 years for testis and thyroid cancer patients diagnosed below age 55 years, and textless10 years for stomach, colorectal, corpus uteri and melanoma patients of all ages. For breast and prostate cancers, a small excess (CRS textless 95 remained for at least 15 years. CONCLUSIONS: Estimates from this analysis should help to reduce unneeded medicalization and costs. They represent an opportunity to improve patients' quality of life.