There are about 10 million cancer survivors in the United States, representing 3.5 percent of the population. Prevalence rises steadily with age so that by age 80 to 84, prevalence is 19 percent. Although most cancer survivors are over age 65, more than one-third are young to late-middle-age adults and facing cancer-related concerns regarding reproduction, child rearing, employment, and the care of their aging parents. Factors that will continue to drive the increase in the number of survivors include the aging of the baby boom cohort, increased use of effective cancer screening, and improvements in treatment. Survival has improved as individuals with cancer are increasingly being diagnosed at younger ages with early-stage disease. The probability of long-term survival depends on many factors, including age, type of cancer, stage of illness, and comorbidity, but estimates of “conditional” survival provided to the committee by NCI generally show that cancer patients who have already survived 1 year after diagnosis have a better chance of surviving the next 5 years than the first 5 years after diagnosis.
Cancer survivors are likely to have comorbid illnesses, ADL limitations, and functional limitations. The relatively high prevalence of these