A report released by Macmillan Cancer Support last week shows that there will be a record high of 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK in 2015. This is an increase of around half a million people in just five years.
Improved survival and detection is a major cause of the increase in cases, as well as an ageing population – the number of patients diagnosed with cancer aged over 65 has increased by 23 per cent in the last five years.
The largest increase was seen in men living with prostate cancer, which has risen by 27 per cent in five years. There are also 21 per cent more cases of breast cancer and 18 per cent more cases of colorectal cancer compared to five years ago.
The growing number of people living with cancer may put more pressure on the NHS. The research shows that around 25 per cent of people who have survived cancer experience poor health or disability because of their treatment; many will not return to full health as a result of this and because of serious side effects of their disease. For example, around 60 per cent of men who survive for five years after being diagnosed with prostate cancer experience ongoing urinary problems such as incontinence.
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “While it is great news that more people are surviving cancer or living longer with it, progress is a double-edged sword. As numbers surge, the NHS will soon be unable to cope with the huge increase in demand for health services.”
She added: “It is essential that every one of those 2.5 million people receives the highest quality care and support and gets the best chance they possibly can of surviving cancer.”