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Nearly 12 Million Cancer Survivors In The U.S.

The number of cancer survivors in the United States increased to 11.7 million in 2007, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Women survive more often, and survive longer, according to the report.

There were 3 million cancer survivors in 1971 and 9.8 million in 2001. Researchers attributed longer survival to a growing aging population, early detection, improved diagnostic methods, more effective treatment and improved clinical follow-up after treatment.

The study, “Cancer Survivors in the United States, 2007,” is published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

To determine the number of survivors, the authors analyzed the number of new cases and follow-up data from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program between 1971 and 2007. Population data from the 2006 and 2007 Census were also included. The researchers estimated the number of persons ever diagnosed with cancer (other than non-melanoma skin cancer) who were alive on Jan. 1, 2007.

Study findings indicate:

– As of January 1, 2007, an estimated 64.8 percent of cancer survivors had lived five or more years after their diagnosis of cancer.

– Among all survivors, 4.7 million received their diagnosis 10 or more years earlier.

– Of the 11.7 million people living with cancer in 2007, 59.5  percent, or 7 million people, were 65 years or older.

– Women are the larger proportion of cancer survivors, at 54 percent. Among those who had lived with a diagnosis of cancer for more than 15 years, 67.5 percent were females.

– Approximately 1.1 million of the 11.7 million cancer survivors had lived with a diagnosis of cancer for more than 25 years. Of those survivors, 75.4 percent were females.

– Among the three most common cancers, breast cancer survivors are the largest group of cancer survivors (22 percent), followed by prostate cancer survivors (19 percent) and colorectal cancer survivors (10 percent).

“As the number of cancer survivors continues to increase, it is important for 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,” said Arica White, PhD., MPH., an epidemic intelligence service officer in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “This understanding is critical in promoting good health and coordinating comprehensive care for cancer survivors.”

ACP Internist detailed how primary care follow-up was critical for breast cancer survivors, and how the 2009 release of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines changed screening recommendations.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*


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