Chances are you or someone you know has beenNational Cancer Survivors Day touched by cancer. From patients and providers to caregivers and survivors, the impact of this life-altering disease is felt in every corner of Arizona. 

Monday, June 6, is National Cancer Survivors Day. A cancer survivor includes those who are being treated for cancer, who are free of cancer, and who live with cancer as a chronic condition.

Cancer is Arizona’s second-leading cause of death, just behind heart disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 40,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Arizona this year – about 770 new cases per week or 110 new cases per day. 

The news is better in Arizona than in many other states. Of the five leading types of cancer – breast, lung, prostate, colorectal and melanoma – only melanoma occurs here at a higher rate than the national average. The mortality rate for all cancers in Arizona is about 10% below the national average.

The Arizona Cancer Control Plan, 2020-2024, produced by the Arizona Cancer Coalition,  includes thoughtfully crafted goals, objectives and strategies aimed at reducing the state’s cancer burden.

The plan emphasizes early detection and prevention as the most-effective tools in the fight against cancer. Aside from their practicality and cost-effectiveness, the benefits can be seen at the individual, community and societal levels. Early detection involves the routine screening of those whose age, risk factors, or symptoms make them more likely to develop cancer.

A key element: Promoting healthy behaviors such as avoiding tobacco use, eating well, exercising, and practicing sun safety. Preventative measures such as these are known to yield positive results for a variety of chronic diseases including cancer. Among the program’s goals:

  • Increasing statewide colorectal cancer screening rates among adults aged 50- 75 from 67.4% to 80% by June 2024.
  • Reducing the percentage of high school students who currently use electronic vapor products by 10% or more from 16.1% to ≤14% by June 2024. 
  • Decreasing melanoma mortality among Arizonans by 10%, from 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people to less than 2.1 deaths per 100,000 people by June 2024.

The plan also focuses on health equity, in which every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged because of social determinants of health such as income, environment, educational attainment, or access to health care. 

Other sources of information about cancer include the Arizona Cancer Registry, which collects, manages, and analyzes cancer information in Arizona, and the Cancer Survivors page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please visit the Arizona Cancer Coalition’s page on the ADHS website to learn more about the group’s activities and how to get involved.