In the U.S., cancer survivors have hit a new record at 15.5 million, and the American Cancer Society predicts that in another decade the number will exceed 20 million. Although increased survivorship is a huge success, it also implies the need for greater medical, emotional, and psychological support available to these survivors to aid in long-term recovery.
American Cancer Society epidemiologist Kimberly Miller said, “Many cancer survivors have to cope with long-term physical and psychological effects of their cancer treatment. It’s important for the public health community to have a better understanding of the current and future needs of these survivors.”
Improved detection and treatment has allowed for more individuals to survive cancer.
Majority of cancer survivors are over the age of 70. Men were most likely to survive prostate, colon, or rectal cancer, and melanoma. Women most often survived breast cancer, uterine cancer, and colon or rectal cancer.
The cancers listed are not necessarily the most commonly diagnosed. Lung cancer ranks as the second most common cancer diagnosed, but falls to eight place when it comes to survivorship.
Cancer doesn’t solely affect the body. It takes a great toll on finances, family, and emotional health. For these reasons, greater support needs to be offered to these patients to promote long-term survivor success.
Although there are groups offering support to survivors, there is still much more that can be done. Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital, explained, “Complicating the matter is the fact that every patient is an individual and often has unique needs. With time, the hope is that more programs will emerge to help with all aspects of cancer care.”
Miller added, “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.”
Doctors can help support patients by teaching them to live a healthy lifestyle and can make referral to mental health experts if they are in psychological distress.
The report, prepared by the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the U.S. National Cancer Institute, was published online on June 2 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on Colon cancer survival rates improved with daily low-dose aspirin.