The number of cancer survivors living in the United States is on the upswing, according to a report released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.

The study conducted in 2007 surveyed 11.7 million cancer survivors in the U.S., up from 9.8 million in 2001 and just 3 million in 1971.

The CDC defines a cancer survivor as anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the balance of his or her life.

"It's good news that so many are surviving cancer and leading long, productive, and healthy lives," CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said in a press release. "Preventing cancer and detecting it early remain critically important as some cancers can be prevented or detected early enough to be effectively treated. Not smoking, getting regular physical activity, eating healthy foods, and limiting alcohol use can reduce the risk of many cancers."

The study also found that women make up 54 percent of cancer survivors, and that breast cancer survivors are the largest group of cancer survivors, followed by prostate cancer survivors and colorectal cancer survivors.