The prevalence of cancer is calculated as the number of prevalent cases per total population. Cancer prevalence rises sharply with age as is shown in Figure 2-4. By age 40 to 44, an estimated 1.4 percent of the U.S. population has a history of cancer. This rises steadily by age, and by age 80 to 84, the prevalence of cancer is 19.3 percent (prevalence is 15 percent for those aged 65 and older; 3.5 percent for the total U.S. population). These estimates are limited to prevalent cases diagnosed within the past 27 years.
According to the most recent estimates for 2002, the most frequent sites for invasive primary cancer among survivors were breast cancer among women (22 percent), prostate cancer among men (18 percent), and colorectal cancer (10 percent) (Figure 2-5). Half (50 percent) of cancer survivors had a history of one of these cancers. Figures 2-6 and 2-7 show the distribution of prevalent cases by type of cancer and by gender. Among male cancer survivors the three leading types of cancer are prostate cancer (41 percent), colorectal cancer (11 percent), and cancer of the urinary bladder (8 percent). Among female cancer survivors the three leading types of cancer are