More people are now surviving cancer than at any other time in history, according to a report released March 10, 2011, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The number of United States cancer survivors increased to nearly 12 million in 2007 as compared to 2001 when there were 9.8 million and just 3 million in 1971.
Women comprise the largest proportion of all cancer survivors (54 percent) with breast cancer survivors as the largest group (22 percent), followed by prostate cancer survivors (19 percent) and colorectal cancer survivors (10 percent). Among all survivors, 4.7 million received their diagnosis at least a decade ago — nearly two million more total survivors than existed in the early 1970s.
A cancer survivor is defined as anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the balance of his or her life.
The study pointed out many factors have lead to an increase in number of cancer survivors, including a growing aging population, early detection, improved diagnostic methods, more effective treatment, and improved clinical follow-up after treatment.
“There is now a growing number of people who have faced a cancer diagnosis which affects them and their loved ones," said Julia H. Rowland, Ph.D., director of NCI’s Office of Cancer Survivorship. “Unfortunately for many cancer survivors and those around them, the effect of cancer does not end with the last treatment. Research has allowed us to scratch the surface of understanding the unique risks, issues, and concerns of this population."
Arica White, Ph.D., M.P.H., an epidemic intelligence service officer in CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control said acknowledging the long term effects of cancer is critical in promoting good health and coordinating comprehensive care for cancer survivors. "It’s important for all medical and public health professionals to be knowledgeable of issues survivors may face, especially the long-term effects of treatment on their physical and psychosocial well-being.”