Number of cancer survivors in the U.S nearly quadrupled from 1971 to 2007

The number of cancer survivors in the United States nearly quadrupled from 1971 to 2007, growing from 3 million to 11.7 million, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The increase reflects earlier detection, improved diagnostic methods, more effective treatment, improved clinical follow-up after treatment and an aging U.S. population, the agency said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Breast, prostate and colorectal cancers were the most common types of cancer among survivors, and female survivors (54.3%) outnumbered males (45.7%). About 59.5% of the survivors were over the age of 65 and less than 1% were under the age of 19. Women are more likely to be survivors because breast and cervical cancer usually occur at a younger age and can be detected early and treated successfully. About 1.1 million of the survivors had lived with the diagnosis for more than 25 years, and 75.4% of those were females.

Nearly 2.6 million women were survivors of breast cancer as of January 2007, while almost 2.3 million men were survivors of prostate cancer. Trailing far behind those groups were the 1.1 million survivors of colorectal cancer; in fourth place were the nearly 800,000 survivors of kidney and renal pelvis cancers.

The data comes from the nine Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results programs, which have monitored about 10% of the U.S. population since 1975. Those results were then extrapolated to the entire U.S. population.