By the year 2030, experts estimate that 22.1 million people in the US will have had and survived cancer, a new report suggests.
On the whole, it’s good news, as new cases of cancer are declining among men and stable among women.
But the health care needs of people with a history of cancer are different from those who have never had the disease, meaning there will likely be new holes to fill as more people live longer after battling cancer.
Researchers at the American Cancer Society credit treatment advancements for the changing landscape of survivorship, but urge that more specialized care needs to be given to these people.
Overall, fewer Americans are developing cancer, but more of them are surviving many forms of the disease, a new American Cancer Society report found.
Currently, some 16.9 million Americans have a history of cancer.
Some form of the disease will strike almost one in three people in the world at some point in their lives.
But it isn’t a death sentence any more.
Recent decades have brought drastic improvements in screening practices that allow doctors to catch tumors earlier when they’re more easily treatable.
And treatments advanced radically too.
A long way from broad chemo drugs or radiation therapy blasts, those methods are still used but in targeted ways and in combination with newer treatments like gene therapies and immunotherapies.
Cancer can strike anyone of any age, but remains somewhat more common among women.
Currently, the new report, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, estimates that 8.1 million men and 8.8 million women in the US have a documented history of cancer.
Different cancers are more or less likely to affect men or women.
Men for example are at greatest risk of developing prostate cancer, a diagnosis currently held by over 3.6 million Americans.
Women are at greatest risk, unsurprisingly, for breast cancer, which nearly 3.7 million women have.
Colon and rectal cancers have been on the rise among Americans – especially young ones – in recent years, and are currently the second most common form of the disease among men and third most common among women.
Women are also more prone to uterine cancers, while men have high rates of melanoma.
Other cancers are more commonly diagnosed, but less likely to have survivors, such as lung cancer.
About two thirds of those who are considered cancer survivors are already five years out from there initial diagnoses, and nearly 20 percent have lived 20 years past diagnosis.
These are predominantly older Americans, over the age of 65, though more than 100,000 teenagers and children are also cancer survivors.
But surviving cancer doesn’t mean getting entirely out from under the burden of the disease.
Last week, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that people who have been diagnosed with cancer pay 40 percent more than people who have never battled the disease.
Cancer survivors often develop secondary illnesses, including heart and cardiovascular problems, as well as having increased psychological.
‘People with a history of cancer have unique medical, psychosocial, and economic needs that require proactive assessment and management by health care providers,’ said Dr Robin Yabroff, senior scientific director at ACS and report co-author.
‘Although there are growing numbers of tools that can assist patients, caregivers, and clinicians in navigating the various phases of cancer survivorship, further evidence-based resources are needed to optimize care.’