One of the misconceptions floating around society is that a cancer diagnosis comes with a fatal impression. In fact, it does not have to be this way at all. Cancer survivors, who have beaten the tumors that plagued them, are now living long and fruitfully. A new study found that the number of cancer survivors over 65 years of age will increase by 42% over the next decade in the U.S.
Researchers say that we can expect a dramatic increase in the population of older adults who are diagnosed with cancer, or have a history of cancer. The health news comes courtesy of the National Cancer Institute. So, while cancer is largely a disease of aging, even those who get it are increasingly living well into their twilight years.
The report is part of a special focus on cancer survivorship, published in the “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.” The Institute plans to update and publish cancer survivorship statistics each passing year. Let’s hope the results are uplifting and inspirational for everyone, most importantly those who develop cancer.
In 1971, the year the “National Cancer Act” was signed, the survivor population was approximately three million. By 2008, the number rose to nearly 12 million (the last year from which data are available).
The report shows that, in 2008, 60% of the cancer survivors were at least 65 years old. It is projected that this number will increase to 63% by 2020.
The most common diagnosis among cancer survivors includes female breast cancer (22%), prostate cancer (20%) and colorectal cancer (nine percent). The higher survival rates are attributed to better detection and screening. Lung cancer, which is by far the most diagnosed cancer in men and women, is much lower in the survivor population at just three percent.
There are some important repercussions from this news. For instance, the number of oncologists and geriatric specialists is decreasing in the U.S. — just as the need for these specialists is increasing.
But overall, let’s keep looking on the positive side. We are battling cancer and we are living and beating it to a greater degree than ever before. Let’s keep the good fight going.