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Cancer Survivor Ranks Expanding

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 11, 2011

Nearly 2 million more people were living with a cancer diagnosis on Jan. 1, 2007 than in 2001, from 9.8 million to 11.7 million, and the number will continue growing, says a federal report that advises providers to be more attentive to their needs.

"As the number of cancer survivors continues to increase, it is important for medical and public health professionals to be knowledgeable of issues survivors may face, especially the long-term effects of treatment on their physical and psychosocial well-being," said Arica White, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released the report with the National Cancer Institute.

The document is part of the CDC's Thursday Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"This understanding is critical in promoting good health and coordinating comprehensive care for cancer survivors," White said.

The increase is attributed to multiple factors, including improved and earlier detection, the aging of the population, more effective treatment and better clinical follow-up after treatment, the report says. The disease has become a curable one for some, and a chronic one for others and use of the word "victim" is no longer an appropriate description, the report says.

"Unfortunately, for many cancer survivors and those around them, the effect of cancer does not end with the last treatment," said Julia H. Rowland, director of the NCI's Office of Cancer Survivorship. "Research has allowed us to scratch the surface of understanding the unique risks, issues, and concerns of this population."

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