As of January 2012, there were approximately 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States and that number is expected to rise by 31 percent to 18 million by 2022, according to the second Annual Report on Cancer Survivorship in the United States published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Cancer survivors represent a growing population—and one in need of medical care, psychosocial support, and practical assistance. The aging of the population will result in a higher number of cancer survivors, which could present new healthcare challenges.

Researchers used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program and population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine cancer prevalence and survival. They found that as of January 2012, there were approximately 13.7 million cancer survivors living in the United States and that population was projected to reach 18 million by 2022. The data indicates that 64 percent of this survivor population has survived five years or more; 40 percent have survived 10 years or more; and 15 percent have survived 20 years or more after diagnosis. Over the next decade, the number of people who have lived five years or more after their cancer diagnosis is projected to increase approximately 37% to 11.9 million.

Survival trends vary across cancer subtypes. Currently, women with breast cancer account for 22 percent of survivors, while men with prostate cancer account for 20 percent of survivors. In contrast, people with lung cancer, the second most commonly diagnosed cancer, only represent 3 percent of survivors.

The increase in the survivor population is due in most part to the aging of the population. By 2020, the researchers predict that two-thirds of cancer survivors will be over the age of 65. The researchers say that the growing survivor population will present new healthcare challenges, as survivors will have long-term medical, psychosocial, and practical needs that will need to be met.


de Moor JS, Mariotto AB, Parry C, et al. Cancer Survivors in the United States: Prevalence across the Survivorship Trajectory and Implications for Care. Cancer Epidemiolog,y Biomarkers & Prevention. 2013; 22(4): 561–70.

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