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Almost Half of Brits Will Get Cancer in Their Lifetime by 2020

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 18/06/2013

Research by Macmillan Cancer Support has found that by 2020 almost half of Brits will get cancer in their lifetime, but 38% will not die from the disease. This is attributed to an ageing population paired with better quality cancer treatment and research.

Macmillan has undertaken extensive research based on past statistics of cancer mortality rates. Projections show that by 2020 almost 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime, a 3% increase on 2010 figures.

Almost half of people that die will have suffered cancer

However, statistics also show that recovery rates from cancer are greater, as almost 4 in 10 of those getting cancer will not die from the disease.

By 2020, Macmillan predicts that almost 47% of people who die will have suffered cancer in their lives. But only 65% of these will have died from the cancer. The other 35% will have died from other causes.

Why fewer deaths from cancer?

Macmillan and Cancer Research UK suggest that an ageing population with a greater life expectancy is to blame for the increase in the number of people getting cancer in their lifetime. Where Brits are living longer, they are increasing their risk of developing cancer.

However, more advanced medical treatment and vast progress in healthcare means that fewer people are dying from cancer, as they are able to treat the cancer and enable victims to recover.

Instead, statistics show that cancer survivors are dying from other conditions such as heart disease, pneumonia and strokes.

Challenge for the NHS

Macmillan say that the increase in the number of Brits getting cancer poses a significant challenge, as the NHS will not be able to cope with the demand for cancer services. They call for greater community care services, proper after care and greater provision of cancer services to cope with the increased demand.

Professor Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support, speaks of how side effects of surviving cancer will be a greater strain on the NHS: "That we live longer as a nation, and that we are improving cancer treatment, are things to celebrate. We do, however, need to add a serious note of caution: the more successful we are with treatment and cure, the more people we have living with the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment."

Delays in Diagnosing Cancer

The delay in diagnosis or treatment can occur at any point in the cancer journey and can be divided into: pre-symptomatic delays, patient delays, primary care delays, referral delays, and secondary care delays.

Whilst a small element of delay is inherently inevitable in all cancer diagnostic pathways, it is likely that in a significant percentage of patients there is considerable preventable delay often with catastrophic consequences. It has been claimed that earlier diagnosis of people with cancer could save between 5,000 and 10,000 lives each year.

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