- Subscribe to PCF Networked Blog Daily Updates
- Subscribe to our Twitter / Google / Yahoo Daily Updates
Colon cancer cell. The analysis also blamed lifestyle factors such as poor diet, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity for the rise in rates of cancer diagnosis. Photograph: Micro Discovery/Corbis
Rates of cancer are rising so much that by 2020 almost half of Britons will develop the disease in their lifetime, but more people will survive the country's biggest killer, a new analysis reveals.
By 2020, 47% of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point before they die, according to projections drawn up by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The incidence of cancer has risen by more than a third over the past 20 years. In 1992 about one in three people (32%) who died that year in Britain had had a diagnosis of the disease. By 2010 that had increased to 44%, a jump of 38%.
Macmillan's latest estimates, based on official data on cancer incidence, all-cause mortality and projections of future cancer prevalence, predict that it will rise again, to 47%, by 2020.
The ageing population is the main driver of the trend, although lifestyle factors such as poor diet, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity are also causes, the charity said.
"In only seven years' time nearly half the population will get cancer in their lifetime. This poses a herculean challenge for the NHS and for society," said Ciarán Devane, Macmillan's chief executive.
The health service needs to undertake a fundamental shift towards proper after-care of patients, with much more care delivered outside hospitals, in or near people's homes, and better engagement with patients in deciding how their care is delivered, added Devane, who is also a board member of NHS England.
Macmillan's research does not include a gender breakdown. But it tallies with a Cancer Research UK study last December which found that by 2027 exactly half of all men (50%) would develop the disease at some point.
Macmillan's analysis includes good news too, though. It anticipates that the proportion of people who survive a diagnosis of one of the 200 or so forms of cancer will reach 38%. It has already risen from just 21% in 1992 to 35% in 2010.
Professor Jane Maher, Macmillan's chief medical officer, said improved diagnosis, drug and surgical advances in cancer treatment and better care of cancer sufferers explained the fact that more people were surviving cancer. But, she added: "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.
"Many patients can be left with physical health and emotional problems long after treatment has ended. People struggle with fatigue, pain, immobility, or an array of other troublesome side effects."
Sean Duffy, NHS England's national clinical director for cancer, welcomed the growing survivability of cancer but warned that the NHS could not be complacent and needed to do more.
"We also recognise that we need to be looking at how we can help cancer survivors get back into their day-to-day lives after their treatment is complete. Whether it's specialist help to get back to work or being recommended to a physical activity group, local NHS teams need to consider providing a new range of care services for cancer survivors to tackle their needs and improve their quality of life," Duffy said. "I am determined to make sure our cancer services are world-class and that NHS patients receive the best treatment available."
The Department of Health has told NHS England that it wants it to stop about 5,000 people a year from dying unnecessarily early from cancer by 2015 through earlier diagnosis, better treatment and improved aftercare.
Ministers have pledged to reduce premature mortality in England by about 20%, potentially saving 30,000 lives a year by tackling cancer as well as heart conditions and preventing strokes, by 2020. Efforts so far in fighting cancer have concentrated on identifying those with colorectal and lung cancer earlier, so they can be treated.
"These figures remind us that while our life expectancy is increasing, this also means more of us will be diagnosed with cancer," said Clare Knight, Cancer Research UK's health information manager. "The good news is that thanks to research, cancer survival rates have doubled over the last 40 years. But it's crucial that we continue finding new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer sooner, so that more people survive in future."
Pakistan Cyber Force