June 7, 2015 marks the 28th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States.
A report published last year by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute estimated that almost 14.5 million people in the U.S. are considered cancer survivors, and that number will grow to almost 19 million by 2024. A survivor is anyone living with a history of cancer (in treatment, just diagnosed, or has been in remission for many years) from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.
The aim of National Cancer Survivors Day is to improve the lives of cancer survivors by spreading awareness about the ongoing challenges faced by those diagnosed with the disease. Communities across the globe will honor cancer survivors across the world, and join them in celebrating life and demonstrating that life after cancer can be meaningful and rewarding.
National Cancer Survivors Day raises awareness about early and effective screening tests. Diagnostic tests for cancer include biopsy, scans, MRI, colonoscopy, pap test, and blood tests. Cancer is mostly diagnosed by examining the cell or tissue samples under a microscope. In certain cases, tests done on the cell proteins, DNA, and RNA can help doctors detect cancer. These test results can help physicians recommend the best treatment options.
The American Cancer Society’s recommendations for screening guidelines are:
- Yearly mammograms starting at age 40 for breast cancer
- Beginning at age 50, both men and women should undergo screening for colorectal cancer
- Cervical cancer screening should begin at age 21 for women
- Lung cancer screening for men and women from the age 55 to 74
- Cancer-related check-ups for people aged 20 or older should include health counseling and, depending on a person’s age and gender, exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some non-malignant (non-cancerous) diseases.
If the disease is detected at the earlier stages, it can result in better outcomes and even be cured. However, while treatment is successful for some people, others who are diagnosed at a later stage may face many health issues.
This year the focus is on the positives, while highlighting the issues faced by those who survive the disease. The American Cancer Society’s community-based programs and services help cancer survivors facing issues such as lack of information about new treatments, inadequate or no insurance and psychosocial struggles.