On Sunday, June 5, Canada celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day. This day, which takes place each year on the first Sunday in June, honours everyone who is living with a cancer diagnosis.
In 2022, there are more cancer survivors than ever. It is estimated that 43 per cent of Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer within their lifetime. Moreover, rates of cancer death are expected to continue to go down this year, as they have for the past two decades. Together with a growing population, this means the number of cancer survivors is only increasing.
With more people living after cancer diagnosis, and living longer than in the past, it is vitally important that we not only celebrate cancer survivorship, but also care for the specific needs of cancer survivors. Many need cancer rehabilitation services in order to continue to work, care for themselves, and live full and capable lives, but these services are not available in many places and are not a standard part of cancer care programs.
Some cancers still leave far fewer survivors than others. Lung cancer is expected to remain the top cancer killer, causing more deaths than breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers together. Expanded lung cancer screening programs and greater access to targeted therapies and tumour-agnostic treatments will be necessary to keep pushing lung cancer mortality downward.
As we celebrate the continuing life of cancer survivors – some of whom may be our friends or family – let us also acknowledge the challenges that cancer survivors face and advocate for better support for them, in the hope that more cancer patients will become cancer survivors, and that more cancer survivors will live longer and happier lives.
Cancer statistics are from the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2022. Main image show predicted five-year net survival rates by cancer type, data from 2015–2017, ages 15–99, all Canadian provinces except Quebec..