- The current number of cancer survivors is 13.7 million.
- The increase is primarily due to aging of the population.
- Survival is not uniform across cancer types.
The report, published in the AACR’s journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, shows that as of January 2012, there were approximately 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States, a number that is expected to rise by 31 percent to 18 million by 2022.
“The increase in the number of survivors will be due primarily to an aging of the population. By 2020, we expect that two-thirds of cancer survivors are going to be age 65 or older,” said Julia Rowland, Ph.D., director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The current report was based on an analysis of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program and population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, both government-funded databases.
In addition to providing estimates of future cancer survival trends, the report shows that survival is not uniform across cancer subtypes. Currently, women with breast cancer account for 22 percent of survivors, while men with prostate cancer make up 20 percent. People with lung cancer, the second most common cancer in terms of diagnosis, only represent 3 percent of survivors.
“For patients with prostate cancer, we have a nearly 100 percent five-year survival rate, and breast cancer has made tremendous strides as well, with five-year survival rising from 75 percent in 1975 to almost 89 percent in 2012,” said Rowland. “However, we clearly need to have better diagnostic tools and better treatments for lung cancer.”
According to Rowland, the increase in the cancer survivor population will present new challenges for the health care community. Patients diagnosed with cancer will likely have comorbid conditions that need to be managed, and Rowland estimates 16 percent will have had a previous malignancy.
“How to ensure that these patients lead not only long lives, but healthy and productive lives, will be a vital challenge to all of us,” said Rowland.
Press registration for the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 is free to qualified journalists and public information officers.
About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.