Even though cancer incidence rates have been decreasing for the past 10 years, the number of cancer survivors is growing, and will rise from 14.5 million to 19 million in that same time span, a report found.
This is the result of increases in cancer diagnoses driven by the aging and growth of the population, as well as the fact that people are living longer with cancer because of earlier cancer detection and more effective treatments.
The American Cancer Society released the findings of its second edition of Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures, 2014-2015 online and also in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
The 3 most common cancers among male cancer survivors are prostate (43%), colorectal (9%), and melanoma (8%), the society noted in a press release. Among women, the 3 most common cancers are breast (41%), uterine (8%), and colorectal (8%). While lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women, a low survival rate makes it the number 8 cancer among survivors. The distribution of prevalent cancers is expected to be largely unchanged in 2024.
Other selected findings include:
• The majority of cancer survivors (64%) were diagnosed 5 or more years previously, and 15% were diagnosed 20 or more years ago.
• Nearly one-half of cancer survivors (46%) are aged 70 years or older, while 1 in 20 (5%) is under age 40.
• The age distribution of cancer survivors varies substantially by cancer type. For example, the majority of prostate cancer survivors (62%) are aged 70 and older, whereas less than one-third (32%) of melanoma survivors are in this age group.
“After the completion of primary cancer treatment, survivors often return to their primary care provider for medical care,” authors of the journal article wrote. “A number of organizations have begun to produce guidelines to assist primary care physicians in the provision of care for patients with a history of cancer. These guidelines focus on ongoing surveillance and cancer screening, as well as the assessment and management of long-term and late effects of cancer and its treatment. There is also increasing emphasis on improving the overall well-being and quality of life of cancer survivors through the application of principles of disease self-management and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, such as avoiding tobacco, maintaining a healthy body weight, and being physically active throughout life.”