6 January 2015
*The charity warns the surge in numbers is creating a cancer crisis of ‘unmanageable proportions’*
There will be a record high 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK in 2015, an increase of almost half a million people in the last five years, reveals new analysis by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The charity has issued a stark warning today [05/01/2015] that this increase puts huge pressure on the NHS, which will have difficulty coping unless urgent action is taken by all political parties.
Worryingly, around one in four (25%) people in the UK already face poor health or disability after treatment for cancer. This means they may still be reliant on health services after they have been given the all-clear and as more people are diagnosed the charity warns this will only get worse.
The dramatic increase in people living with cancer is largely due to improvements in survival and detection, and a growing and ageing population, with the number of over-65s living with cancer increasing by almost a quarter (23%) in just five years. Of the 2.5 million people currently living with cancer, 1.6 million were diagnosed five or more years ago. However, growing evidence shows that many cancer patients do not return to full health after gruelling treatments and many suffer from serious side effects of the disease.
The number of men with prostate cancer has seen the biggest rise of 27% in the last five years, while many of these will survive in good health, a large proportion will face longer term issues. Research shows that men with prostate cancer who survive at least five years after diagnosis have a 60% increased risk of ongoing urinary problems such as incontinence.
The number of women with breast cancer has also risen by 21% in the last five years and there are now also 18% more people living with colorectal cancer.
John Pearson, 47, from Kent was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006.
“Eight years on from my diagnosis I’m still suffering fatigue and permanent nerve damage to my legs, hips and arms from the chemotherapy.
“I try to stay positive as I’ve survived cancer but I’m living with the long term side effects of treatment. I wish I could do without the health services but I can’t – I see my GP for help with pain control, and have to visit the hospital for colonoscopies, neurology, and physiotherapy.”
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“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 and the support that organisations like Macmillan provide will become even more urgent and important.
“But we cannot do it alone. As we are threatened by a cancer crisis of unmanageable proportions, all political parties must step up and make a real commitment to supporting people with cancer.
“At this point it is no longer enough to just pay lip service to the issue. Ahead of the next general election all political parties must prioritise cancer care in their upcoming manifestos. 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.”
Existing research from Macmillan highlights that tens of thousands of UK cancer patients are diagnosed too late, shown a lack of compassion, or denied a ‘good’ death. To address this and for the health and social care systems to react to the growing number of people getting and surviving cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support is urging all parties at Westminster to commit in their manifestos to:
1. Delivering cancer survival rates that match the best in Europe, particularly by reducing late diagnosis, investing in care after treatment by delivering the cancer Recovery Package, and addressing the needs of older people.
2. Ensuring all cancer patients are treated with the highest levels of dignity and respect, and supporting staff to deliver this.
3. Improving end-of-life care for people with cancer by delivering free social care for people at the end of their life, to enable them to spend their final weeks and days in the place of their choice.
Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘Time to Choose’ campaign is calling on the public to pledge their support online at www.timetochoose.org.uk
For further information, please contact:
Cora Bauer, Media and PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2016 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
Macmillan’s new report ‘The Rich Picture on people with cancer’ tells the unique story of the numbers, needs and experience of people living with cancer. Please contact the press office for a copy.
1. Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Projections scenario 1). Macmillan analysis based on extrapolation of 2010 and 2020 projections that the number of people living with cancer will hit an estimated 2.5 million in 2015.
2. Macmillan Cancer Support (2013) Throwing light on the consequences of cancer and its treatment. See here.
3. This is likely to be based on an underestimate of prostate cancer prevalence both in 2010 and 2015. The calculations are based on a projections scenario that assumes age and sex specific prostate incidence rates in 2008 remain constant however, newer data show that age standardized incidence rates have increased since 2008.
4. Macmillan Cancer Support (2014) Cancers Unequal Burden: The reality behind improving cancer survival rates. See here.
5. Cancer in the UK 2014, the first in a regular series of state-of-the-nation reports from Macmillan Cancer Support, shows for the first time how the UK is performing on the issues that matter most to people with cancer. We have carried out a comprehensive review of the available evidence and applied it to Macmillan’s ‘Nine Outcomes’ – nine statements that people with cancer have told us they want to be able to say about their cancer experience. It is our vision that every person living with cancer will be able to say that the Nine Outcomes are true for them by 2030.
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