14 October 2016
Further increases in the number of people in the UK diagnosed with cancer each year are expected over the coming decades, according to a new report.
A Cancer Research UK study has been published in the British Journal of Cancer forecasting that around 500,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer annually in the UK by 2035 if current trends continue. At present, this figure stands at around 352,000 per year, meaning the country can expect to see an additional 150,000 extra cases diagnosed annually in 20 years' time.
Nearly 244,000 cases of cancer will be diagnosed in women, with more than 270,000 in men - up from around 173,000 and 179,000 today, respectively. The most common cancer types are predicted to be prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women.
It is expected that one in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime, with four in ten cancers in the UK potentially preventable through lifestyle modifications such as avoiding smoking, drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight.
However, one of the key concerns raised by the report is the fact that many people are not sufficiently aware of the straightforward changes they can make to decrease their chances of developing cancer, or of the health problems that can increase the risk of contracting the disease.
A recent study from Cancer Research UK found that three-quarters of the population are not aware of the link between obesity and cancer, despite this being the second biggest preventable cause of the disease, linked to around 18,100 cases per year.
To some degree, the rise in cancer diagnoses is also attributable to an ageing and growing UK population, as well as the availability of improved diagnostic tools. However, the fact that lifestyle factors are also playing an increasingly important role - particularly among women - is one that needs to be taken seriously by consumers and healthcare decision-makers alike if the expected rise in cancer cases is to be minimised or averted.
Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "These numbers are shocking. We know four in ten cancers in the UK could be prevented; cutting smoking rates and tackling the rising obesity epidemic is key to avoiding more cancer cases. Quitting smoking and keeping a healthy weight isn't always easy; all of us - including the government - can do more to help individuals and families make healthy choices."
Meanwhile, Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "There is no getting away from the fact that we're seeing ever-increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with cancer each year, and these numbers are quite alarming. It is vital that people know how to reduce their own risk of cancer as much as possible."
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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