14 November 2016
21st Century cancer deaths.
Today the Office for National Statistics has released two sets of important data. The first are mortality statistics for 2015, which outline how people died in England and Wales last year. The second is the 21st Century Mortality Files which provide data on deaths in England and Wales since the start of this century.
21st Century cancer: the key facts
For further information on the changing cancer story, read our report from earlier this year Cancer: Then & Now
- Cancer has killed almost 2.5 million people in the UK since the turn of the 21st Century
- Cancer has killed more than 2 million people in England and Wales since the turn of the 21st century[i] (estimate around 2.1 million)
- Cancer has killed almost 250,000 people in Scotland since the turn of the 21st century[ii] (estimate around 230,000)
- Cancer has killed around 60,000 people in Northern Ireland since the turn of the century[iii]
- Cancer is the leading cause of death in the UK, after pushing heart disease into second place in 2011 (2012 in Scotland)vii
- Almost 150,000 people now die from cancer each year in England and Wales (up from an estimated 135,000 a year in 2001). This compares with around 140,000 people who die from heart disease, and almost 50,000 from dementiai
- Around 16,400 people now die from cancer each year in Scotland (up from around 15,400 in 2005)[iv]. This compares with around 15,800 who die from heart disease
- Around 4,500 people now die from cancer each year in Northern Ireland (up from around 3,900 in 2003). This compares with around 3,800 who die from heart disease.[v]
- Cancer kills people at a younger age than heart disease or a stroke, according to data from Scotland (people who die from cancer die on average aged 74 years, compared with 78 years for heart disease and 82 years for stroke)[vi]
- Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women aged 35-49
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in women aged 50-64[vii]
Commenting on 21st Century Mortality Files and 2015 mortality statistics released today by ONS, Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support says:
“These figures reveal a huge increase in cancer deaths since the turn of the century, with the disease now claiming more lives than any other each year. Tragically, too many people dying of cancer are still ending their days without the right care and support, which could mean they end up in unnecessary pain. One in ten people dying of cancer each year have spent their final hours in pain[viii], this is unacceptable.
“People dying of cancer should be made as comfortable as possible, and they should be involved in decisions about their care, including where they choose to die, and who is with them when they die. And people who are caring for loved ones at the end of life should be supported through what is often an extremely distressing time.
“As the number of people dying of cancer increases in the coming years, so demand for good end of life care will become ever more critical. Too many people’s final experiences fall short of the highest standards, this has to change.”
Claire Senior from Cambridgeshire died aged 40 from mouth cancer in February 2015.
Her husband David, 44 says:
“Claire was clear that she didn’t want to die in hospital but at home. Thanks to Mandy, her Macmillan community nurse, it was made possible. She organised and coordinated everything, from GP visits to the pain relief. She and her team were absolutely outstanding and made sure that Claire’s last ‘journey’ was a truly good one.”
Audrey Girling from Norfolk died, age 86, from metastatic breast cancer in 2010.
Her daughter, Chris, 62, says:
“My mother was adamant that she didn’t want to die in hospital so my sister and I took turns to care for her. But after an emergency admission, the hospital decided that she could not return home. I strongly felt that with the right care support we could have coped but there was none offered. It was very traumatic when mum died in hospital and I still feel we let her down by not being able to bring her home.”
How Macmillan helps
- For information, support and advice on end of life care, please call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk
- Macmillan Specialist Care at Home is a partnership approach to providing palliative care in the community. It’s based on the successful Midhurst Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Service which began in 2006. People cared for at the Midhurst service have fewer A&E attendances, spend less days in hospital, and are more likely to die in their preferred place of care. It is currently being tested in six centres in England.
- Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a voluntary process which aims to help a person plan ahead for a time when their health may change and they lose the capacity to make decisions about their care or treatment. One way a person may choose to plan ahead is by letting others know their preferences and wishes for their care. Macmillan has developed a toolkit for healthcare professionals to help them understand the ACP process and initiate such conversations with the people they care for.
For further information, please contact:
Patrick Pringle, Senior Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 840 4891 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk
[i] Office for National Statistics. Deaths registered in England and Wales (series DR). http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/deathsregisteredinenglandandwalesseriesdrreferencetables
[ii] ISD Scotland. https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/2016-10-25/m_cancer_all_types.xls
[iii] Northern Ireland Cancer Registry. https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/FileStore/ExcelDocuments/OfficialStats2016/Mortality/Filetoupload,620847,en.xls
[iv] National Records of Scotland. Vital events reference tables, 2015. http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//statistics/vital-events-ref-tables/2015/section6/15-vital-events-ref-section-6-alltables.xlsx
[v] Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Registrar General Annual Report 2015 – deaths by cause. http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/publications/annual_reports/2015/Table6.1_2015.xls
[vi] National Records of Scotland. Vital events reference tables, 2015. http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//statistics/vital-events-ref-tables/2015/section6/15-vital-events-ref-tabs-6-14.xlsx
[vii] Office for National Statistics. Deaths registered in England and Wales (Series DR) – 2015. http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/deathsregisteredinenglandandwalesseriesdrreferencetables (accessed November 2016)
[viii] Office for National Statistics, 2016. National Survey of Bereaved People 2015 (VOICES). 10% of all respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that the cancer patient had sufficient pain relief in the last two days of life. http://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthcaresystem/datasets/nationalsurveyofbereavedpeoplevoices/2015/referencetablesvoices2015.xls (accessed November 2016)