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Record 15.5 million Americans now surviving cancer

Staff writer |
Cancer survivors in the United States reached record numbers this year - 15.5 million - and the American Cancer Society predicts they'll total more than 20 million in another decade.

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Although cancer rates are declining for men and stable for women, survival numbers are up because of improved detection and treatment, as well as a growing and aging population, the study authors explained.

According to the report, nearly half of survivors are 70 and older, and 56 percent were diagnosed within the past 10 years. One-third were diagnosed less than five years ago.

Among men, survivors were most likely to have had prostate cancer (3.3 million), colon or rectal cancer (725,000), or melanoma (614,000). Women survivors most often had breast cancer (3.5 million), uterine (757,000), and colon or rectal cancer (727,000), the researchers found.

These aren't necessarily the most frequently diagnosed cancers. For example, lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, but because of its poor survival rate, it ranks eighth among survivors, Miller said.

While older age is common, survivors' age varies significantly by the kind of cancer, the findings showed. For example, 64 percent of prostate cancer survivors are 70 or older, compared with just 37 percent of melanoma survivors. And more than 65,000 cancer survivors are 14 and under, while 47,000 are 15 to 19, according to the report.

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