Cancer rates on the rise

Four out of 10 people who die have a diagnosis of cancer at some point in their life, according to new research by a leading cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

They found that 42% of people who die have had a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. And for 64% of these people, cancer was attributed as the cause of their death. The number of people living with cancer has increased by over a third in the last 10 years, from 1.5 million people to 2 million people.

There are a number of reasons for these increases. With many cancers, the older you get the higher your risk of developing the disease. Generally, we are all living longer, so get an increasing number of cancer diagnosis. The effectiveness of cancer treatments has improved dramatically over the last decade with the development of more targeted therapies. Screening and better diagnostic tools have meant we are catching cancer earlier so people are living longer with the disease.

Dr Mehmood Syed for Bupa says, “The potential rising incidence and prevalence of cancer could create demand for services that is unsustainable. Significant changes need to be made to the way in which both cancer care and the management of long-term conditions are dealt with.”

Over 300,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2008. In men the most common cancer is prostate cancer, in women it is breast cancer. This is followed by lung cancer and bowel cancer respectively for both men and women. The older you get the higher your risk of developing cancer. More than three out of five cancers are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over, and more than a third are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over. Cancer is caused by cells in the body changing so that they grow in an uncontrolled way.


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