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Cancer Survivorship

Achieving a Decent Quality of Life After Cancer

Thanks to earlier detection, improved treatments and the supportive care of family and friends, there are now more than 10 million cancer survivors in the United States. One out of every six people over 65 is a cancer survivor, and 1.4 million were diagnosed more than 20 years ago.

Some survivors may live with cancer as a chronic disease requiring periodic treatments, while others may go into long-term remission. Many will lead normal lives with few side effects, if any. In fact, two-thirds of survivors report that cancer has not had a significant long-term impact on their lives.

Possibility of Recurrence

As many survivors have learned, however, recovery is not always the end of the cancer experience. Even several years after successful treatment, cancer recurrence is always a possibility. Toxic cancer therapies can leave you with health issues that require lifelong surveillance. Finally, recovering from the social and emotional trauma of cancer can take longer than recuperating from treatment.

After decades of focus on treating cancer, researchers now face the challenge of helping survivors achieve a decent quality of life for many years after treatment has ended. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, 64% of adults diagnosed with cancer today can expect to be alive in five years. For children, survival rates range between 70% and 92%, with the 10-year survival rate at 75%.

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