June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day, which celebrates those who have survived the disease; inspires individuals who have recently been diagnosed with cancer; and acknowledges the contributions of families, friends and healthcare providers.
“When people hear the term ‘survivor,’ they often think of someone who has completed treatment and is considered cancer-free, but a person is a cancer survivor from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of their life,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG.
According to the Indiana State Cancer Registry, as of Dec. 31, 2016, Indiana had an estimated 275,439 cancer survivors for all cancers combined. The four highest-burden cancers for the state—breast, colorectal, lung and prostate—accounted for more than half of those survivors.
Over the past 50 years, major advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment have resulted in longer survival and an increase in cancer survivorship. In the U.S. alone, more than 15.5 million people are living with a history of cancer.
Survivorship, like cancer itself, is complex and can be difficult to navigate. Cancer survivors are at risk of cancer recurrence and developing secondary cancers due to the effects of aging, prior cancer treatment, unhealthy lifestyles, underlying genetics or family history and other factors.
Having a survivorship care plan after a cancer survivor completes their primary cancer care is recommended. Survivorship care plans should reflect the survivor’s treatment and address their post-treatment needs to improve their health and quality of life.
“National Cancer Survivors Day is a great opportunity for survivors, caregivers, family and friends to come together and affirm that life after a cancer diagnosis can be active, productive and even inspiring,” said Box.
To locate a National Cancer Survivors Day event near you, or for more information on National Cancer Survivors Day, visit www.ncsd.org.
To learn more about cancer survivorship in Indiana or to find survivorship resources, visit the Indiana Cancer Consortium (ICC) at http://indianacancer.org/survivorship/. In 2018, the ICC released the Indiana Cancer Control Plan 2018-2020, which includes a focus area for survivorship with the goal of improving quality of life for all those affected by cancer.