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Cancer survivors in America at an all time high

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Cancer survivors

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows the number of cancer survivors in the United States has reached an all time high. The reason cited for the increased numbers is early screening and detection of the disease, better treatment options and the fact that people are living longer.

Cancer no longer incurable

The CDC report suggests cancer is no longer an incurable disease and for many indicates it is possible to live with the disease much like any other chronic illness. The new report shows there are 11.7 million cancer survivors in the US as of 2007, compared to 9.8 million in 2001 and 3.0 million in 1971. The CDC says cancer survivors are now described as such rather than victims.

The authors say the the numbers found in the report are expected to rise, "Because many cancer survivors live long after diagnosis and the U.S. population is aging..."

The findings come from data gathered by the National Cancer Institute and the CDC from nine cancer registries that are part of that are included in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, representative of 10 percent of the U.S. population.

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Fifty one percent of diagnoses were from female breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, with 60 percent of survivors 65 years of age or older.

Prostate cancer survivors were age 65 to 84. Women diagnosed with breast cancer, melanoma, thyroid, and cervical cancers were age 40 to 64.

As of January 1, 2007, an estimated 64.8% had lived with a diagnosis of cancer for five or more years. Leukemia accounted for cancer diagnosis and survival in 31.1 percent of 33,001 age 0--19 years.

Because people with cancer are living longer and the ongoing effects can lead to adverse health outcomes, the CDC suggests the need for more understanding of the long-term needs of 11.7 million individuals living with cancer or who have been diagnosed with the disease at some point and survived. They emphasize cancer survivors should be encouraged to cut their risk factors for recurrence through smoking cessation, ongoing screening and timely physician follow-up.

CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)
March 11, 2011 / 60(09);269-272