Good News for Cancer Survivorship

The number of cancer survivors in the US continues to rise.

Cancer survivors are defined as people who have been diagnosed with cancer from the time of diagnosis through the remainder of their lives. However, in eyes of the public, survivorship often is thought to start when active treatment ends. To correct this misperception, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recently released its Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Facts & Figures 2012-2013.

An estimated 13.7 million people with a history of cancer were alive in the US on January 1, 2012. This estimate does not include carcinoma in situ of any site except uri­nary bladder, and does not include basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. The three most common cancers among male survivors are prostate (43%), colon and rec­tum (9%), and melanoma (7%). Among female survivors, the most common cancers are breast (41%), uterine corpus (8%), and colon and rectum (8%). The majority of cancer survivors (64%) were diagnosed 5 or more years ago, and 15% were diagnosed 20 or more years ago. Almost half (45%) of cancer survivors are 70 years of age or older, while only 5% are younger than 40 years old.

Childhood cancers (ages 0 to 14 years) represent less than 1% of all new cancer diagnoses; however, they are the second leading cause of death in children, exceeded only by accidents. It is estimated that there were 58,510 cancer survivors ages 0-14 years living in the US as of January 1, 2012, and an additional 12,060 children will be diagnosed in 2012.

As of January 1, 2022, it is estimated that the population of cancer survivors will increase to almost 18 million (8.8 million males and 9.2 million females). As the number of survivors increases, there will be a corresponding increase in the need for survivorship resources. The National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center (The Survivorship Center) is a collaboration between ACS and the George Washington Cancer Institute, and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its goal is to shape the future of post-treatment cancer survivorship care and to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors. The Survivorship Center staff and more than 100 volunteer survivorship experts nationwide have developed numerous tools that may be found at


American Cancer Society. Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Facts & Figures 2012-2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2012.

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Adam S. Faye, MD