More Cancer Survivors than Ever Before
Your own personal experience of cancer is unique. If you’ve watched someone you love die of cancer, you may feel pessimistic about the progress we’ve made in cancer treatment. If you’ve recently been diagnosed, and especially if you’ve watched someone die of cancer before, you may feel little hope for yourself.
But the truth is that in the past 50 years, medicine has made tremendous strides in cancer prevention, detection and treatment. Many cancers that used to be fatal can now be cured, especially if they’re found and treated early. Some of the most positive changes in cancer outcomes include:
- Survival rates for children with the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphocytic leukemia, have increased to 85 percent from 53 percent since the mid-1970s. In the 1950’s this type of cancer was almost always fatal.
- Some childhood cancers now have cure rates of nearly 100 percent.
- About 70 percent of women who have inflammatory breast cancer, which is highly aggressive, can expect to be cured of this cancer if they have combinations of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Just 10 years ago, the survival rate for this type of cancer was only 15 percent.
Cancer is easiest to treat before it spreads from its initial location in the body. Early detection has played a key role in cancer survival rates, often allowing doctors to find cancer before it’s had a chance to spread. For example:
- Colorectal cancer that hasn’t spread has a 5-year survival rate of 90 percent, and most patients with this type of cancer are cured.
- If breast cancer is detected before it spreads, the 5-year survival rate is 97 percent.
- Pap smears can detect pre-cancerous cells in the cervix, and the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by 80 percent since the 1930s.
If you are a cancer survivor
All of this good news means there are more cancer survivors now than ever before. Just as everyone’s experience of cancer is unique, your experience as a cancer survivor is unique too. It depends on so many factors—the type of cancer you had, the type of treatment you needed, how long it’s been since you were diagnosed with cancer…the list is endless.
In this e-magazine, we’ll cover the issues that are important to you as a cancer survivor. Some of the topics you’ll find in the coming months include: information about different kinds of cancer, common treatment approaches, tips for making difficult decisions, recovery from surgery, dealing with cancer treatment, telling family and friends you have cancer, going back to work, getting the help you need from friends and family, dealing with changes in your relationship with your spouse, alternative and complementary therapies, cancer news and much more.
American Cancer Society; National Cancer Institute; The New York Times, 13 May 2003.