More Americans Surviving Cancer
Cancer Survivors Now Number Nearly 10 Million
WebMD News Archive
June 24, 2004 -- Life after cancer is a reality for a growing
number of Americans who are now described as cancer survivors rather than
A new report from the CDC and National Cancer Institute shows
that in 2001, 9.8 million people in the U.S. were cancer survivors compared
with only 3 million who were living with cancer 30 years ago.
Researchers say that advances in early detection and treatment
have made cancer a curable disease for some and a chronic disease for others.
But cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart
"The number of cancer survivors in this country has
increased steadily over the past three years for all cancers combined. We
expect the number of survivors to increase as improvements are made in cancer
detection, treatment, and care and as the population ages," says U.S.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, in a news release.
Cancer survivors include all living persons who have ever been
diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer Survivors Growing
To determine how the population of cancer survivors has
changed, researchers examined cancer data collected from 1971-2001. The results
appear in the June 25 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Researchers say that in 1971, an estimated 1.5% of the U.S.
population was living with cancer. By 2001 that percentage had grown to
The study shows that in 2001 breast cancer survivors made up
the largest group of cancer survivors (accounting for 22%), followed by
prostate cancer survivors (17%), and colorectal cancer survivors (11%).
Other findings include:
- Nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults diagnosed with cancer today can expect to
be living in five years in the absence of other competing causes of death.
- The majority (61%) of cancer survivors are aged 65 and older.
- 79% of childhood cancer survivors will be living five years after diagnosis
and nearly 75% will be living 10 years following their cancer diagnosis.
"In the past, public health programs concentrated on early
detection and prevention of cancer," says CDC medical officer Loria
Pollack, MD. "However, the focus has now expanded to include cancer
survivorship, transforming survivorship research into practice, and developing
clinical guidelines to provide attentive follow-up and health promotion to
According to researchers, common issues faced by cancer
- Maintaining optimal physical and mental health
- Preventing disability and late-effects related to cancer and its
- Ensuring social and economic well-being for themselves and their