Nearly 14 million people currently living in the United States have a history of cancer. That is a group that is larger than the population of a number of European countries.
Indeed, we have a nation of cancer survivors in the United States, and it is a nation that is only growing. The number of Americans with a history of cancer will swell to nearly 18 million during the next decade, thanks to an aging and growing population, and to the significant progress we are making against this disease.
We currently avert more than 400 deaths each and every day in the United States of patients who would have been lost to cancer had death rates not begun to decline in the 1990s thanks to a number of different factors, such as a declining smoking prevalence and advances in treatment and early detection. That progress also means that more people than ever before are living beyond cancer, making the health and well-being of these survivors an important concern.
At the American Cancer Society, we know that after treatment ends, the cancer experience does not. That is why we are working tirelessly to understand and address the unique needs of the survivor population. And that is why we recently released our first-ever Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Facts and Figures (cancer.org/Research/CancerFactsFigures/CancerTreatmentSurvivorshipFactsFigures/index), a report produced in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute to highlight the challenges and opportunities in serving cancer survivors.
We hope with this publication to help others understand the unique medical and psychosocial needs of survivors, and that there are resources to assist patients, caregivers, and health care providers in navigating the various phases of cancer survivorship.
At the American Cancer Society, we devote considerable resources to survivorship and quality-of-life research through avenues such as our Study of Cancer Survivors, which to my knowledge is one of the largest US cohorts of cancer survivors.[1, 2] This nationwide, population-based research study focuses on quality of life among more than 10,000 long-term adult survivors of cancer. We are also studying the side effects of cancer treatment, such as pain, fatigue, or depression, and tracking trends in cancer symptoms and symptom management. And through a collaboration with the George Washington University Cancer Institute, we are working through the National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center (cancer.org/survivorshipcenter) to shape the future of cancer survivorship care. That work is funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We are making progress in our cancer survivorship work, and yet we still have far to go.
We know the United States is not alone in seeking to learn more about the unique challenges of cancer survivorship, and we welcome this supplement to Cancer as an opportunity to further the dialogue on survivorship in our nation and across Europe. We no doubt have much to learn from one another, both through this collaboration and ideally through many others around the world in years to come.
It is only by working together that we will be able to create a world with less cancer and, as we like to say at the American Cancer Society, more birthdays and that we will help those who celebrate those birthdays live better lives. Together, we will no doubt continue to turn what was once hopeless into an experience that is today ever more hopeful.