National cancer survivor’s month was established to recognize those who have successfully fought or are in the process of fighting the disease. Each one of us most likely knows a person who has either succumbed to cancer or is currently battling the disease. Cancer is a disease that literally affects millions of Americans daily. In June we take time to celebrate those who are still among us after having fought cancer.
Thanks to many advancements in treating cancer, people are living longer after receiving a cancer diagnosis. The most recent studies show that more than six million men, and seven million women have managed to survive cancer in the United States. The growing number of cancer survivors is not an indication that cancer rates are rising, (they have actually declined over the past 10 years), but more an indication that treatments are improving.
In 2014, half of the cancer survivors were diagnosed before the age of 66 and half were diagnosed after. Certain types of cancer affect a particular age group more commonly than others. For instance, the median age of someone with lymphocytic leukemia is 14, but for those with bladder cancer, it’s 73.
Today, 64% of all cancer survivors have lived at least five years since their diagnosis. A great many of these have gone on to live long lives, with 46% of them reaching their 70th birthday.
For men, the largest group of survivors is the 43% who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Colorectal cancer has the second largest group of survivors among men.
Among women, survivors of breast cancer are by far the largest group, making up 41% of female cancer survivors. Uterine and colorectal cancer both have the second largest group of female survivors. This makes sense when we understand that women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than either uterine or colorectal cancer.
Some types of cancers are as common in men as they are in women. For instance, survivors of colorectal cancers account for 9% of male cancer survivors and 8% of female cancer survivors. The survival rate for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is essentially the same for men as it is for women.
Early detection is key to survival. The growing number of survivors in the U.S. helps us understand the importance of health screenings such as blood work, colonoscopies, and mammograms. Please talk with your doctor to take advantage of these screenings.