National Cancer Survivor's Day (June 2)
A cancer diagnosis may lead to a change in a person's priorities regarding relationships, career, or lifestyle. Some people with a history of cancer - or survivors - talk about appreciating life more and gaining a greater acceptance of self, and some survivors become anxious about their health and uncertain of how to cope with life after treatment. Survivorship is a unique journey for each person.
The number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 13.7 million today. About 68% of today’s cancer survivors were diagnosed with cancer five or more years ago. And, approximately 15% of all cancer survivors were diagnosed 20 or more years ago. More than half (59%) of cancer survivors are 65 or older, and 5% are younger than 40.
The increase in survival rates is largely attributed to the following four developments:
• Improved screening and early detection, such as mammography for breast cancer, the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer, the Pap test for cervical cancer, and colonoscopy for colorectal cancer
• Improvements in treatment
• More effective treatment of side effects, making it possible to give patients higher, more effective doses of cancer drugs
• The development of targeted therapies, which are more specific and often less toxic than standard chemotherapy
Source: National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship, updated December 18, 2012.