Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingThere are 10 million cancer survivors in America and every year a million more people beat the disease. Better treatments mean patients are living longer, but a report released today finds huge problems with their long-term care.
This report comes from the National Academies' Institute of Medicine. Researchers and public policy groups spent a year studying what happens after patients learn they're cancer free.
Most cancer survivors will always face a higher-than-normal risk of other cancers and heart disease. Some patients say they find little support from the medical community once the initial treatment is over.
Ellen Stovall, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: "The minute the doctor says, 'This is your last cancer treatment,' the medical system is lost to you."
Karen Pollitz, Breast Cancer Survivor: "Your policy no longer covers prescription drugs, mental health, rehab, physical therapy, and those are all the things that cancer survivors need."
Survivors are at risk of their initial cancer returning or a new one forming, and may need not just screening to detect that but also help handling the inevitable fear.
These problems increasingly affect the elderly. Sixty percent of all cancer survivors are over 65. And if you think you are not at risk, think again -- half of all men and one-third of all women will develop cancer in their lifetimes.