More people than ever can call themselves cancer survivors, according to new federal stats. Highlights from the New York Times:
- One in 20 adults has survived some form of the disease, including one in five people over age 65.
- The total number of survivors rose to 11.7 million in 2007, up from 9.8 million in 2001 and 3 million in 1971.
- About 65% of survivors have lived five years or more since diagnosis, 40% have lived at least 10 years, and 10% at least 25 years.
Researchers credit the improved numbers in part to better treatment, but the Times points out a few caveats. For one thing, more aggressive screening is increasing the number of people diagnosed—for prostate cancer, especially—even if the cancer is slow-growing and unlikely to be fatal. It also notes that the overall death rate from the disease has remained constant, at about 200 deaths per 100,000 people a year. Still, says the CDC chief, the new numbers should dispel the notion that "cancer is a death sentence." (Read more cancer stories.)