Rapid survivor increase

14 Sep 2008

Numbers of cancer survivors projected to grow dramatically

An estimated 25 million people alive today have survived cancer, a number that is likely to grow substantially in the future thanks in part to improved treatments such as personalised therapies, leading experts told patients at the 7th Patient Seminar organised by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

“The increasing incidence of many cancers, the ageing population, earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments are the most important causes for multiplying the number of cancer survivors,” says Dr. Paris Kosmidis, past president of ESMO.

Eleven million of the world’s cancer survivors are from the USA and the same number comes from the EU, he said. “It is interesting to note that in USA, the number 30 years ago was 3 million. Therefore, we are faced with a huge population of individuals with special needs which is expected to increase significantly in the near future.”

The fact that larger numbers of people are expected to survive cancer in the long term is good news. But providing appropriate care to these survivors, many of whom face lingering medical complications and psychological repercussions, will pose a difficult challenge for healthcare systems around the world, Dr. Kosmidis said.

“The impacts of long-term survival are physical, social, financial, psychological, emotional, spiritual and existential. Based on these facts, it is our obligation to help develop programs and initiatives surrounding survivorship,” he said.