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Cancer Channel
Reported March 29, 2013

More Cancer Survivors in the Future

By Marianne Thornton, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Great strides have been made in cancer research, allowing more and more cancer patients to survive the disease. In fact, The American Association for Cancer Research estimates that by 2022 there will be 18 million cancer survivors, a 31% increase from 2012’s number.

The expected growth in cancer survivors was determined after researchers analyzed the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program and U.S. Census Bureau’s population projections.

A primary reason for the increase is thought to be the aging of the population.

“Our population in general is getting older, so overall more people are getting cancer because more people are at-risk. There are just older people and age is the biggest factor associated with getting cancer,” Kathy Helzlsouer, M.D., M.H.S., Director of the Prevention and Research Center at Mercy Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

Unfortunately, even though the number of cancer survivors is expected to rise in the next decade, not every type of cancer will see growth. Despite being the second most common cancer, lung cancer patients continue to represent only 3% of cancer survivors.

“There are certain cancers like lung cancer or pancreatic cancer which tend to present in later stages, so they’re more advanced cancers. We also don’t have an effective treatment for lung cancer, especially those that are smoking related,” says Dr. Helzlsouer, M.D., M.H.S.

Another issue that could arise from such a drastic increase in cancer survivors is they could put a strain on the health care community. The patients are likely to be older, have other comorbid conditions, and about 16% will have had a previous malignancy. So, more and more people will need in-depth care.

“How to ensure that these patients lead not only long lives, but healthy and productive lives, will be a vital challenge to all of us,” Julia Rowland, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute, was quoted as saying. 

SOURCE: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, March 2013 and Interview with Kathy Helzlsouer, M.D., M.H.S., Director of the Prevention and Research Center at Mercy Medical Center

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