Number of Cancer Survivors Likely to Grow Through 2022

A new report highlights the importance of serving survivors' needs.

Cancer survivors are living longer but they still have specific health needs. (Photo: VisitBritain/Daniel Bosworth/Getty Images)

Jun 14, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

Cancer survivors’ numbers are growing, says a new report that predicts there could be almost 18 million survivors by 2022, up from about 13.7 million today.

New cancer case rates are dropping, but people are living longer and cancer treatments are improving. That will have a major impact on survivorship, says today’s report from the American Cancer Society, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute.

The numbers are meant to draw attention to the specific medical and psychological needs of cancer survivors. It’s important to be aware, said the report, “of resources that can assist patients, caregivers and health care providers in navigating the various phases of cancer survivorship.”

Some statistics from the report: Almost half of cancer survivors (45 percent) are age 70 or older, and a mere 5% are younger than 40. The median age of cancer patients when they’re diagnosed is 66.

Prostate cancer, colon and rectal cancer and melanoma are the three most common cancers among male survivors. For women the top three are breast cancer, uterine cancer and colon and rectal cancer.

“Many survivors, even among those who are cancer free, must cope with the long-term effects of treatment, as well as psychological concerns such as fear of recurrence,” said senior author Elizabeth Ward in a news release. Ward, national vice president of Intramural Research, added, “As more people survive cancer, it is vital that health care providers are aware of the special needs of cancer patients and caregivers.”

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