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New Report Estimates Nearly 18 Million Cancer Survivors in the U.S. by 2022


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The number of Americans with a history of cancer, currently estimated to be more than 13 million, will grow to almost 18 million by 2022, according to a report by the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute. The report, “Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures, 2012–2013,” used data from the NCI-funded Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program to generate new estimates of cancer survivor prevalence in the U.S. The report finds that even though cancer incidence rates are decreasing, the number of cancer survivors is growing due to the aging and growth of the population, as well as improving cancer survival rates.

The growing number of cancer survivors in the U.S. makes it increasingly important to understand the unique medical and psychosocial needs of survivors and raise awareness of resources that can assist survivors, caregivers, and healthcare providers in navigating the various phases of cancer survivorship.

"As more people survive cancer, it is vital that healthcare providers are aware of the special needs of cancer patients and caregivers.”

The three most common cancers among males living with a history of cancer in 2012 are prostate cancer (43%), colorectal cancer (9%), and melanoma (7%). Among women in 2012 with a history of cancer, the three most common cancers are breast (41%), uterine (8%), and colorectal (8%) cancer. In 2022, those proportions are expected to be largely unchanged.

Other selected findings:

  • Nearly one-half (45%) of cancer survivors are aged 70 years or older, while only 5% are aged younger than 40 years
  • The median age of patients at the time of cancer diagnosis is 66.
  • There are 58,510 survivors of childhood cancer living in the United States, and an additional 12,060 children will be diagnosed in 2012.
  • The majority of cancer survivors (64%) were diagnosed 5 or more years ago; 15% were diagnosed 20 or more years ago.

In addition to prevalence estimates, the report also includes information on treatment, survival, and common concerns of survivors, as well as sections on the effects of cancer and its treatment, palliative care, long-term survivorship, the benefits of healthy behaviors, and resources for cancer survivors.

“With this effort, we review the critical issues related to cancer treatment and survivorship,” says Elizabeth R. Ward, PhD, national vice president of Intramural Research and senior author of the report. “Many survivors, even among those who are cancer free, must cope with the long-term effects of treatment, as well as psychological concerns, such as fear of recurrence. As more people survive cancer, it is vital that healthcare providers are aware of the special needs of cancer patients and caregivers.”

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For more information and resources, see www.cancer.org/survivors. Also watch Behind the Science: Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2012-2013 on YouTube.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, July/August 2012.