The CDC just released its latest statistics for cancer survivors. A survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and is still alive. They may or may not still be undergoing treatments. They may have lived 20 years since diagnosis or 20 minutes.
The news in the report is actually quite good for many cancer survivors. It seems research has finally gotten a handle on lots of cancers and, while it is a huge inconvenience to be told you have cancer (understatement?!), your chances of surviving for at least five years are remarkably good.
For instance, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer. Over 233,000 men were told they had prostate cancer in 2014. Fortunately, 99% of them will be alive in five years. Caution: 1% don’t make it. Don’t wait around! One of our best friends died of prostate cancer and it wasn’t pretty.
The next most common cancer is breast cancer. Pink anyone? (Is anyone else as tired of the pink campaign as i am??) In 2014, 232,670 men and women (but mostly women) learned they had breast cancer. Probably in large part because of all of the awareness campaigns and money thrown at research, 89% of breast cancer survivors will live five years or more.
The news goes south quickly from there. The third most common cancer is lung cancer. A whopping 224,210 people were told they have lung cancer in 2014. The majority won’t live a year. Only 17% will live to see that magical five year mark. And yet, funding for research into curing this cancer remains dismal.
There is that awful stigma that accompanies a lung cancer diagnosis. It is the smokers’ disease. And, i guess people who smoke or ever smoked deserve to die. And, i guess the thousands who never smoked but get lung cancer deserve it too. i presume this is true because there is so little support for finding cures. I am fighting to change that. So is LUNGevity (lungevity.org).
There are two cancers more deadly than lung cancer. Fortunately, they are not as prevalent. Only 6% of the 46,420 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will live 5 years. Liver cancer affected 33,190 in 2014. Only 16% of those people will be alive in 5 years.
These stats are dismal. It is up to us to fight for change. The more of us who lift up our voices, the better. Look at what awareness campaigns have done for breast cancer. It is time to spread the wealth. Other cancers are far more deadly and those diagnosed with them deserve to have hope and the chance to live for 5 or more years.
Please help! If you can’t contribute, you can still communicate the need to Congress and contributors.