There are more than 14 million cancer survivors in the U.S. That number is expected to rise as the number of cancer diagnoses increases due to growth and aging of the population.
Advances in early detection and treatment have seen survival rates improve more than 20 percent in the last 30 years. Some 68 percent of a cancer patients now survive at least five years after diagnosis. For childhood cancers the odds are even better: 85 percent of children diagnosed with cancer survive at least five years.
But despite improved treatment, cancer survivors are at increased risk of subsequent cancers.
- More than one in six new diagnoses are among survivors.
- Compared to the general public, survivors of childhood cancer are six times more likely to develop cancer again.
Risk factors for new cancers among childhood survivors are mainly from radiation and chemotherapy treatments, which can damage healthy cells while killing cancer cells. For adult survivors, the risks from treatments are minor compared to lifestyle, environment and genetics. These risks make cancer prevention through healthy lifestyle choices and a clean environment especially important for survivors.