Background: Although the number of cancer survivors has increased substantially over the past several decades, the composition of survivors treated with radiotherapy is not well defined. Radiotherapy carries unique long-term toxicity risks for cancer survivors. This study describes the current estimates and future projections of the epidemiology of five-year cancer survivors who receive radiation therapy. Methods: We used cancer incidence and survival data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End-Results (SEER) database linked to US Census data to estimate the number of five-year cancer survivors treated with radiation between 2000 and 2030. Future projections assumed continuing incidence and survival trends based on historical rates. Results: In 2016 there were an estimated 3.05 million cancer survivors treated with radiation, accounting for 29% of all cancer survivors. The number of radiation-treated cancer survivors is projected to reach 3.38 million by 2020 and 4.17 million by 2030. In 2016 breast (40%) and prostate cancer (23%) comprised the majority of radiation-treated survivors, followed by head and neck cancer (5.8%), lymphoma (5.6%), uterine (3.9%), and rectal cancer (3.8%). The percentage of 70 years or older radiation-treated survivors steadily increased between 2000 and 2030. Conclusions: The next several years are projected to see a large increase in the number of cancer survivors treated with radiation. Impact: This group of cancer survivors has unique needs given the long-term risks of radiation, and increased research and awareness are required to optimize health of this growing population.
- Received December 14, 2016.
- Revision received January 9, 2017.
- Accepted January 10, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.