THURSDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- The number of cancer survivors in the United States climbed to 11.7 million in 2007, government health officials reported Thursday.
That's a dramatic increase since 1971, when there were 3 million survivors, and also since 2001, when there were 9.8 million survivors, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI).
"The percentage of people surviving cancer in the U.S. continues to grow," said report co-author Arica White, a CDC epidemic intelligence service officer. "Life is not over when you get cancer."
"Many people are living a long time after diagnosis, and this is especially true for cancers that we have the ability to detect early," White added.
Of the 11.7 million people living with cancer in 2007, 7 million were 65 or older, according to the report published in the March 11 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"These numbers are really driven by the aging population, which is at a higher risk for cancer," White said. The number of cancer survivors is expected to grow as the aging population grows, she explained.
Most of the survivors (54 percent) are women, with survivors of breast cancer making up the largest group, at 22 percent.
After that comes men who have survived prostate cancer (19 percent), and then people who have survived colon cancer (10 percent), according to the report.
Many survivors, 4.7 million, were first diagnosed 10 or more years ago, the researchers added.
In addition to the aging population, the increase in the number of survivors is due to earlier diagnosis and better diagnostic methods, better treatment and more follow-up care after treatment, the researchers said.
Bart Frazzitta of New York City, who has survived advanced esophageal cancer for more t
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