The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a well-known definition of cancer survivor as “a person who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis throughout his or her life.”1 The study of cancer survivorship includes the impact of cancer on family members, friends, and caregivers. Here is some information on a few aspects of cancer survivorship.
- Researchers analyzed 1514 responses to a survey requesting cancer survivors to describe unmet needs. Respondents were 2-, 5-, and 10-year survivors. The most common unmet needs were physical problems, cited by 38%; financial problems, 20%; education and information, 19.5%; and personal control problems—which included bladder, bowel, and sexual functions, as well as social activities—16.4%.2,3
- The current American Cancer Society report on treatment and survivorship contains these statistics for the United States4:
- 14,483,830 Adult and child survivors who were alive as of January 1, 2014
- 2,975,970 Prostate cancer survivors
- 3,131,440 Female breast cancer survivors
- 15% Cancer survivors diagnosed >20 years ago
- 5% Cancer survivors aged <40 years; almost half of survivors are aged ≥70 years.
- A survey was sent to 976 men who were 3- to 8-year prostate cancer survivors. Of almost 700 respondents, 12% reported suicidal ideation in the previous 12 months, but >40% of those did not register high scores for depression. Employment, disability, and physical pain were strongly associated with suicidal ideation. Prostate cancer survivors also experience erectile dysfunction and bowel problems that affect quality of life. Managing patients’ physical symptoms and quality-of-life issues was described as an important part of suicide prevention.5
- Responses to surveys conducted by the American Cancer Society provide information about the caregivers of cancer survivors. Almost 20% of the caregivers were adult daughters of the cancer survivor. Approximately 2 years after the diagnosis, caregivers provided care for 8 hours a day, for almost 14 months. The estimated value of this care was reported based on the type of cancer, and included lung cancer, $72,702; ovarian, $66,210; colorectal, $45,699; prostate, $44,885; and breast, $38,334.6