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15.5 Million Americans Now Surviving Cancer

But better tools needed to support their long-term recovery, researchers say

FRIDAY, June 3, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Cancer survivors in the United States reached record numbers this year — 15.5 million — and the American Cancer Society predicts they’ll total more than 20 million in another decade. The report, prepared by the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the U.S. National Cancer Institute, was published online June 2 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Although cancer rates are declining for men and stable for women, survival numbers are up because of improved detection and treatment, as well as a growing and aging population, the study authors explained. According to the report, nearly half of survivors are 70 and older, and 56 percent were diagnosed within the past 10 years. One-third were diagnosed less than five years ago.

Among men, survivors were most likely to have had prostate cancer (3,306,760), colon and rectum cancer (724,690), or melanoma (614,460). Women survivors most often had breast cancer (3,560,570), uterine cancer (757,190), and colon and rectum cancer (727,350). While older age is common, survivors’ age varies significantly by the kind of cancer, the findings showed. For example, 64 percent of prostate cancer survivors are 70 or older, compared with just 37 percent of melanoma survivors. And 65,190 cancer survivors are 14 and under, while 47,180 are 15 to 19.

Lead researcher Kimberly Miller, M.P.H., an American Cancer Society epidemiologist, said that primary care doctors and survivors must work together to help deal with the lasting effects of the disease. “A lot of people go to their primary care physician after completing treatment for information, and that’s an area where physicians may need more education and support,” Miller told HealthDay.

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