I recently put the finishing touches on my Stanford Medicine magazine article on cancer survivorship (next issue coming soon!), so I was interested to come across the latest statistics on survivors from the National Cancer Institute. According to Julia Rowland, PhD, director of the NCI's Office of Cancer Survivorship and author of a new report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the number of cancer survivors over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 42 percent over the next decade.
“Cancer is largely a disease of aging, so we’re seeing yet another effect of the baby boom generation and we need to prepare for this increase," Rowland noted in a release from the American Association for Cancer Research.
Rowland is correct that preparation is needed: Given that they'll be facing normal, age-related health issues on top of the consequences of their cancer and treatment (which include such things as pain, fatigue, organ damage, sleep disruption, sexual dysfunction, limited mobility and cognitive disarray), this new population of survivors will need access to much support and many resources. The big question now is, how do we make that happen?