At the start of this year, there were an estimated 13.7 million survivors of cancer living in the U.S., researchers reported. And by Jan. 1, 2022, that number is expected to rise by 31% to some 18 million, according to Rebecca Siegel, MPH, of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues.
Despite the falling incidence of many cancers, the increases are expected largely because of the aging of the population and improvements in treatment that have increased survival rates, Siegel and colleagues reported online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
The wide-ranging report, commissioned by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, discussed a range of issues of concern to cancer survivors, including recurrence, second cancers, and late treatment complications without cancer recurrence.
The researchers estimated the current and future prevalence of cancer survivors by cancer site and described median age and stage at diagnosis and survival, as well as patterns of cancer treatment. They defined a cancer survivor as "any person who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the balance of life."
Siegel and colleagues projected future prevalence of cancer survivors by combining data on incidence, survival rates, and all-cause mortality from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the University of California Berkeley's mortality cohort life tables.
Future population numbers came from the U.S. Census Bureau.
- The central finding is that some 6.4 million men and 7.3 million women who have been diagnosed at any time with cancer were alive on Jan. 1, 2012, excluding those with basal and squamous cell skin cancers and any carcinoma in situ, except for the urinary bladder.
- The leading cancer site among men is the prostate, with nearly 2.8 million cases or 43% of the total. That's expected to rise to 3.9 million cases by 2022 and will still lead the pack at 45% of the total 8.796 million projected survivors.
- Among women, the leader is currently breast cancer, with 2.9 million survivors and 41% of the total. It will also remain in the lead in a decade, with a projected 3.8 million survivors but still 41% of the total 9,184 million projected survivors.
In 2022, the percentage is expected to remain the same and the number is projected to rise slightly to 725,870 survivors, but in second place will be cancers of the colon and rectum, also at 8%, but with 735,720 survivors.
Lung and bronchial cancer, usually detected late and with a poor rate of 5-year survival, contributes only about 3% of cancer survivors among both men and women. In both sexes in 2012, that puts it eighth on the list of cancer survivors by site.
The projections may be underestimates; the researchers assumed that survival rates would be constant from 2007 to 2022. The report also introduced the cancer society's new National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center, which is developing tools for survivors, their caregivers, health professionals, and policymakers. Visit MedPage Today for the article.