PHILADELPHIA (June 1, 2018) – National Cancer Survivors Day is June 3rd. Fox Chase Cancer Center is celebrating the lives of cancer survivors across the country. According to the National Cancer Institute, the term “cancer survivor” refers to any person with a history of cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the remainder of their life.
The American Cancer Society estimates that as of January 2016, there are approximately 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S representing 4.8% of the total U.S. population. By 2026, the number of cancer survivors is projected to increase by 31%, to 20.3 million. This represents an increase of more than four million survivors in 10 years.
“Several factors contribute to the increase in the number of cancer survivors,” said Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, medical oncologist at Fox Chase. “These include advances in knowledge about cancer prevention, improved techniques and access to screening for early detection, innovative treatments like targeted therapies, and improved management of treatment side effects.”
Today, patients who have been diagnosed with cancer are living longer, with 62 percent of survivors currently 65 years of age or older. It is estimated that by 2040, 73% of cancer survivors in the U.S. will be 65 years or older.
“Transitioning to life after cancer can be challenging for many survivors,” said Denlinger. Cancer treatment can cause late side effects that may not show up for months or years after treatment. Some survivors may go on to develop other types of cancers. Many face physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and financial challenges as a result of their disease. “I urge survivors and caregivers to speak openly with their healthcare team regarding concerns about the effects of their cancer,” said Denlinger. “Getting complete answers is essential for helping survivors to readjust after treatment is over or to a life where treatment is more continuous.”
Every cancer survivor should receive an individualized survivorship care plan once treatment has ended. “Such plans are built to improve communication between patients and their cancer care team, and between one’s cancer care team and other doctors who provide ongoing care,” explained Denlinger. Specifically, a survivorship care plan includes a treatment summary and coordinated plan of care, including standards for follow-up and strategies to maintain one’s health. It may also include information and management recommendations for any lingering treatment effects or risks of developing late effects of cancer treatment.
In addition to survivorship care plans, many resources are available to help guide cancer survivors. The National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship is dedicated to enhancing the length and quality of life of survivors, addressing their unique needs, and providing support for survivorship research. Many cancer centers conduct survivorship research and offer specialized clinics to provide care and services to survivors. Community organizations, such as LIVESTRONG and the American Cancer Society, offer information and resources on survivorship. Many community foundations are also dedicated to survivorship efforts within specific cancer types.
To learn more about survivorship services at Fox Chase Cancer Center, visit FoxChase.org.