It is my honor to welcome you to the 36th annual National Cancer Survivors Day®. As a surgical oncologist for over 30 years, my mission has always been to provide the best possible care to everyone I have had the privilege to treat. Each survivor’s experience is unique and deeply personal. Recently, I’ve experienced cancer care from a different, firsthand perspective, with my diagnosis late last year of early-stage breast cancer. Thanks to early detection and the incredible progress made in cancer treatment in recent decades, I’m fortunate that my prognosis is excellent. I understand that for far too many people, this is not the case. The National Cancer Institute is committed to doing everything we can to understand what works best across the cancer continuum – in prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship – to ensure better outcomes for everyone who faces a cancer diagnosis.
The survivor community is growing. There are now more than 18 million people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Due to the growth and aging of the population, better early detection strategies, more effective treatments, and improved supportive care, that number is expected to reach more than 26 million by 2040, highlighting the importance of improving our understanding of – and our ability to address – the needs of cancer survivors. We can make faster progress if we work together, across all of society, and combine efforts that will yield faster, more equitable results, to improve the lives of survivors everywhere.
This is exactly why NCI recently launched the National Cancer Plan, which presents a vision of what it means to end cancer as we know it. In this comprehensive framework, everyone touched by cancer or at risk for cancer can bring about meaningful change. Whether it is encouraging loved ones to get their routine cancer screenings, advocating for more resources or research, or participating in clinical studies, we all have a role.
I also want to note that the needs of cancer survivors are reflected throughout the plan.
I encourage you to explore the National Cancer Plan at nationalcancerplan.cancer.gov to see where you can make a difference.
This year, let’s honor those we have lost, celebrate the lives of the more than 18 million survivors in this country today, applaud the advances that have been made, and recognize how much more we can accomplish – together.
Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D.
Director, National Cancer Institute