National Cancer Survivors Day was established to recognize those who have successfully fought or are in the process of fighting the disease. It would not be surprising to found out that each one of us knows a person who has either succumbed to cancer or is currently battling the disease. That is simply how prevalent the disease has become, alarmingly affecting the lives of millions of Americans. This month of June, we take time to celebrate National Cancer Survivor Month as these brave survivors have managed to prevent the disease from taking their lives and deserve all the praise and support they need to get on with their lives after cancer.
Who Exactly are These Survivors?
Experts from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute defines a cancer survivor as any individual who has been diagnosed with cancer and remains alive and well. This includes patients who are currently undergoing treatment, as well as those who have finished treatment and are considered cancer-free.
The Good News
Thanks to a number of treatment options in both conventional and holistic cancer treatment, people are living longer lives after a cancer diagnosis. According to an informational page from Cancer.org, as of January 1, 2014, there are 6,876,600 men and 7,607,230 women who have managed to survive cancer. The numbers were based on the Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2014-2015 report, which is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.
The growth in cancer survivors is not an indication that cancer rates are rising; in fact, the rates (adjusted for age) have actually declined over the past 10 years, the report notes. But since the U.S. population is both aging and growing, the total number of cancer patients is bound to increase.
In 2014, half of the cancer survivors were diagnosed before the age of 66 and half were diagnosed after, the report says. But the median age at diagnosis varies greatly depending on the type of cancer someone gets. For patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the median age is 14; for patients with testicular cancer, it’s 33; for those with bladder cancer, it’s 73.
Today, 64% of all cancer survivors have lived at least five years since their diagnosis. That includes the 15% of people who have lived at least 20 years since being told they have cancer. A great many of these survivors have gone on to live long lives, with 46% of of them reaching their 70th birthday.
For men, the largest group of cancer survivors in 2014 is the 43% who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. They are followed by the 9% who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer; the 8% who were diagnosed with melanoma; and the 7% who were diagnosed with bladder cancer. Those four cancers will continue to account for the four largest groups of male cancer survivors in 2024, the report authors predict.
Among women, survivors of breast cancer are by far the largest group – they make up 41% of female cancer survivors in 2014. Survivors of uterine cancer and colorectal cancer each account for 8% of the total, followed by melanoma (7%) and thyroid cancer (6%). By 2024, colorectal cancer survivors will overtake uterine cancer survivors, though not by much, according to the report’s projections.
For both men and women, all of the 10 most common types of cancer survivors in 2014 will still be on the Top 10 list in 2024, the report says.
Many types of cancer are about as common in women as in men. For instance, survivors of colorectal cancers account for 9% of male cancer survivors and 8% of female cancer survivors. Similarly, survivors of melanoma make up for 8% of male cancer survivors and 7% of female cancer survivors. People who have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma account for 4% of both male and female cancer survivors, and those who have been diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancers make up 3% of cancer survivors of both genders.
Living With and Beyond Cancer
Cancer survivors often face physical, emotional, social, and financial challenges as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Survivors are at risk of recurrence of their first cancer and are at greater risk of developing other cancers and other health conditions. Factors that increase these risks for survivors include the following:
- The immediate and long-term effects of cancer and its treatment
- Obesity and unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and lack of physical activity
- Genetic mutations
- Psychological and emotional stress
The growing number of cancer survivors in the U.S. makes it increasingly important to understand the unique medical and psychosocial needs of these survivors, as they have been through a lot and have faced numerous, important hurdles in terms of healthcare and finance. Visit / today to learn more about the deadly disease and holistic cancer treatments today.