According to a June 14, 2012 Reuters news story (“Number of US cancer survivors to increase by a third by 2022"):
“The number of Americans living with cancer will increase by nearly a third to almost 18 million by 2022, according to a report released on Thursday by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.
The report concluded that the expanding population of cancer survivors makes it increasingly important that the medical community understand their unique healthcare needs.”
First, those of us who do have cancer are surviving longer, thanks to ever-more-effective treatments. The interval between diagnosis and death is growing greater all the time. For some of us, even though we’ve been diagnosed with cancer, we’re not dying from it, but from other causes.
Second, people are living longer in general. Because the chances of contracting cancer go up with each year of our lives, that means there are people being diagnosed with cancer today who, in earlier generations, would never have reached that point, because they would have been carried off by some other ailment that’s more likely to be curable today.
The emphasis in all these statistics is on the word “living.” More and more of us are living with cancer, not dying from it.
That means survivor issues are going to loom larger in importance for the medical community. The combination of more-survivable cancers and longer lifespans in general means a great many of us are journeying through uncharted territory. Never before have there been so many of us asking what it means to be a cancer survivor. Never before have there been more of us living with cancer.
We’re living. We’re surviving. We’re people with cancer. Hear us roar!