Report Finds 18 Million Cancer Survivors By 2022
June 15, 2012

18 Million Cancer Survivors By 2022

Connie K. Ho for

Olivia Newton-John, star of the cult hit film “Grease,” once said “My cancer scare changed my life.  I'm grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped me prioritize my life.” Surviving cancer is a major accomplishment and a new study finds that there will be a rise in the number of cancer survivors over the next few years. A recent report by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) stated that the number of Americans with a history of cancer will increase from 13.7 million to 18 million by 2022.

The report and accompanying journal article in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. The program, funded by the NCI, released new estimates of cancer survivor prevalence in the U.S. The report shows that, even though the number of cancer incidences is decreasing, the number of cancer survivors is increasing as a result of aging and growth of the population as well as improving cancer survival rates.

"With this effort, we review the critical issues related to cancer treatment and survivorship," noted Dr. Elizabeth R. Ward, national vice president of Intramural Research and senior author of the report, in a prepared statement. "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. As more people survive cancer, it is vital that health care providers are aware of the special needs of cancer patients and caregivers."

As such, the researchers believe that the rising number of cancer survivors in the U.S. makes it more and more important to raise awareness about the resources available to patients, caregivers, and health care providers. The data provided also helps to understand the medical and psychosocial needs of cancer survivors. The report provides a number of interesting findings on various cancers. For example, the three most common cancers for males in 2012 include prostate cancer (43 percent), colorectal cancer (nine percent), and melanoma (seven percent). For women, the most common cancers in 2012 included breast cancer (41 percent), uterine cancer (eight percent), and colorectal cancer (eight percent). These percentages are thought to not go through any drastic change by2022.

Furthermore, the report provides a number of other interesting statistics. Regarding age range, almost one-half (45 percent) of cancer survivors are 70 years or older, while only five percent are younger than 40 years. As well, the median age of patients when they are diagnosed with cancer is 66. Regarding childhood cancer rates, in the United States, there are 58,510 childhood cancer survivors and there are another 12,060 children who will be diagnosed with cancer in 2012. Lastly, 64 percent of cancer survivors were diagnosed with the illness five or more years ago, while 15 percent were diagnosed within 20 or more years ago.

Apart from the statistics, the report has information on treatment survival, and common concerns of survivors for eleven different cancers. For cancer survivors, there are also sections that detail the effects of cancer and cancer treatment, palliative care, long term survivorship, healthy behaviors, and resources. For more information and resources regarding this issue, visit the American Cancer Society online.