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More Cancer Survivors; More Research on Living Healthy

Survivor SignpostNext month is Cancer Survivor Day (June 2) and the good news is there are far more survivors able to celebrate this year than in decades past. And that number is continuing to grow. By the year 2022, the number of U.S. cancer survivors is estimated to increase to 18 million, up from the 13.7 million survivors today, according to a new study by National Cancer Institute scientists.

The number of cancer survivors has grown steadily over the past few decades, thanks to improved diagnostics and treatment. The risk for cancer increases with age and more people are living longer. In the early 1970s, there were approximately 3 million people living with a past cancer diagnosis. Today, the two largest groups of survivors are those diagnosed with breast and prostate cancer: breast and prostate cancer survivors each account for approximately 20 percent of all the survivors.

There is a lot of ongoing research on how survivors can reduce recurrence and stay healthy – with both mental and physical functioning – but right now, there are some things we know.

Avoid inactivity, from diagnosis onwards

In 2010, a review of the research by experts in the field of cancer and exercise concluded that activity helped survivors both physically and with quality of life issues. The recommendations urge survivors to do what you can and avoid inactivity, even patients undergoing treatment

Survivors may need health professionals to help them individualize an exercise program. You can read more about the research.

Cancer-preventive lifestyle helps with overall health

Research suggests that the recommendations for activity, weight, and diet, also will reduce the risk for other diseases including heart disease, the most common cause of death among cancer survivors.

A major study released last month found that those who most closely followed at least six of the AICR recommendations cut risk of premature death from all diseases by about one-third when compared to those who adhered to the fewest of the recommendations. Here is more about the study.

After treatment, if you are able, follow the AICR recommendations for prevention. This includes:

  • being physically active
  • eating a diet filled with fruit, vegetables and other plant foods
  • limiting alcoholic drinks to one a day for women and two for men, if you drink them at all

For cancer survivors both during and after treatment, you can find answers to common questions related to diet, physical activity and other issues in AICR’s CancerResource.

Published on May 2, 2013

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