ACS Report: Number of US Cancer Survivors Expected to Exceed 20 Million by 2026

Written By:Stacy Simon

A new report by the American Cancer Society – in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute – estimates there are more than 15.5 million cancer survivors alive in the US today, and that number will grow to more than 20 million by 2026. This includes everyone who’s ever had cancer, from the time of diagnosis for the rest of their life. The report, “Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2016-2017,” and an accompanying journal article in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians were released June 2, 2016.

The report says even though the rates of new cancer cases are decreasing in men and staying about the same in women, the number of cancer survivors is growing. This is due partly to improved treatments that help people with cancer live longer; improvements in early detection that allow doctors to find cancer earlier when it is easier to treat; and a growing and aging population. The report was created to help draw attention to the increasing number of cancer survivors in the US who have specific medical, psychological, and social needs. It also aims to raise awareness of resources that can assist patients, caregivers, and health care providers in navigating treatment and recovery from cancer.

According to the report, the 3 most common cancers among male survivors are prostate cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and melanoma skin cancer. The 3 most common cancers among female survivors are breast cancer, uterine cancer (including endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma), and colon and rectal cancer.

The report also finds that 47% of cancer survivors, almost half, are 70 years old or older, and only 5% are younger than 40. The median age of patients at the time of cancer diagnosis is 65, although this varies by cancer type.

As the population of cancer survivors grows, the authors point out the need for better delivery and coordination of post-treatment cancer care. Among their recommendations:

  • Better coordination of medical care between cancer care teams and primary care providers
  • Continued development of evidence-based guidelines for after-cancer care
  • Greater access to quality medical care, especially for people without health insurance, or with inadequate health insurance
  • Research to identify the best ways to encourage cancer survivors to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle

The American Cancer Society has begun to produce guidelines to help primary care providers care for cancer survivors. Long-term care guidelines have been published for survivors of colon and rectal cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and head and neck cancers. Guidelines for additional cancer types are being developed.

Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the LIVESTRONG Foundation will host the 8th Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference, “Innovation in a Rapidly Changing Landscape,” at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., June 16-18, 2016.

The meeting will serve as a forum for researchers, clinicians, cancer survivors, advocates, program planners, policy-makers, and public health experts to learn about current and emerging cancer survivorship innovation in a rapidly changing landscape.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Statistics, 2016. Published June 2, 2016 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. First author: Kimberly D. Miller, MPH, American Cancer Society, Atlanta Ga.


Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Statistics, 2016. Published June 2, 2016 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. First author: Kimberly D. Miller, MPH, American Cancer Society, Atlanta Ga.

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