The Growing Survivor Population

For all of the criticisms of our nation’s healthcare system and the improvements that need to be made, there is one undeniable truth that was brought to the forefront again this week – our healthcare providers continue to make tremendous progress helping people overcome diseases which used to be viewed as unavoidable death sentences.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report yesterday that showed we now have nearly12 million cancer survivors in the United States.  That’s an approximately fourfold increase since 1971 in the number of people who have conquered cancer.

The leading subsets of this population are the 2.6 million who have survived breast cancer and 2.3 million men who have overcome prostate cancer.  The CDC credited earlier detection, improved diagnostic methods and more effective treatments for these successes.

The good news is that these statistics should continue to improve.  With advancements in genetic-based healthcare, we are increasing our ability to not only diagnose diseases at an earlier stage and be more precise in recommending treatments, but physicians will also be better able to see a patient’s propensity for disease based on their genetic makeup.

This is just another reminder of the need for policymakers to encourage advancements in medical innovation.  This growing population of cancer survivors is prime evidence of what happens when our healthcare system is centered around new innovations in treatments, technologies and medications.