Number of Cancer Survivors Projected to Top 22 Million by 2030

The total number of cancer survivors in the United States is projected to expand from 16.9 million Americans in 2019 to more than 22.1 million by 2030, according to a study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. This growth in survivorship continues to climb despite the cancer incidence rate remaining stable in women and declining in men. This increase in survivorship is related to the growing aging population, as well as advances in early detection and treatment, according to the researchers.

The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute collaborate every three years to estimate the U.S. cancer prevalence using incidence and survival data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registries; vital statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics; and population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau.

More than 16.9 million Americans (8.1 million males and 8.8 million females) with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2019, with more than 22.1 million projected by January 1, 2030. The three most common cancers in 2019 are prostate (3,650,030), colon and rectum (776,120), and melanoma of the skin (684,470) in men, and breast (3,861,520), uterine corpus (807,860), and colon and rectum (768,650) in women.

More than half of survivors (56%) were diagnosed within the past 10 years, and 64% are 65 years or older.

Challenges remain for survivors

The researchers highlighted some challenges that still present for this patient population, including “a fractured healthcare system; poor integration of survivorship care between the oncology and primary care settings; clinician workforce shortages and knowledge gaps about the needs of cancer survivors; lack of strong evidence‐based guidelines for post-treatment care; and financial and other barriers to quality care, particularly among the medically underserved.”

“Although there are growing numbers of tools that can assist patients, caregivers, and clinicians in navigating the various phases of cancer survivorship, further evidence‐based resources are needed to optimize care,” the researchers concluded.