Cancer survivors in the United States: prevalence across the survivorship trajectory and implications for care

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Apr;22(4):561-70. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1356. Epub 2013 Mar 27.


Background: Cancer survivors represent a growing population, heterogeneous in their need for medical care, psychosocial support, and practical assistance. To inform survivorship research and practice, this manuscript will describe the prevalent population of cancer survivors in terms of overall numbers and prevalence by cancer site and time since diagnosis.

Methods: Incidence and survival data from 1975-2007 were obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program and population projections from the United States Census Bureau. Cancer prevalence for 2012 and beyond was estimated using the Prevalence Incidence Approach Model, assuming constant future incidence and survival trends but dynamic projections of the U.S. population.

Results: As of January 1, 2012, approximately 13.7 million cancer survivors were living in the United States with prevalence projected to approach 18 million by 2022. Sixty-four percent of this population have survived 5 years or more; 40% have survived 10 years or more; and 15% have survived 20 years or more after diagnosis. Over the next decade, the number of people who have lived 5 years or more after their cancer diagnosis is projected to increase approximately 37% to 11.9 million.

Conclusions: A coordinated agenda for research and practice is needed to address cancer survivors' long-term medical, psychosocial, and practical needs across the survivorship trajectory.

Impact: Prevalence estimates for cancer survivors across the survivorship trajectory will inform the national research agenda as well as future projections about the health service needs of this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Survival Rate / trends*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult