More Americans than ever are surviving cancer -- 11.7 million, to be exact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.
The findings are good news for cancer patients and show that early screening and diagnosis, as well as more effective drugs and other treatments, are working. But cancer remains the No. 2 cause of death in the United States, after heart disease.
“As of January 1, 2007, the number of cancer survivors had increased to 11.7 million, or approximately 3.9 percent of the U.S. population,” the CDC writes in its weekly report on disease and death.
Survival of cancer has moved steadily upward, from 3 million survivors in 1971 to 9.8 million in 2001, the CDC report says.
Researchers at CDC and the National Cancer Institute analyzed cancer diagnoses and other details from a large survey of cancer called the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program.
“Breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers were the most common types of cancer among survivors, accounting for 51 percent of diagnoses,” the report reads. “As of January 1, 2007, an estimated 64.8 percent of cancer survivors had lived 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer, and 59.5 percent of survivors were aged 65 years or more.”
The findings have implications for the U.S. health care system. “Because many cancer survivors live long after diagnosis and the U.S. population is aging, the number of persons living with a history of cancer is expected to continue to increase,” the CDC says.
“Approximately 1.1 million of the 11.7 million cancer survivors had lived with a diagnosis of cancer for 25 years or more; of those survivors, 75.4 percent were females.”