12 June 2013
There are currently around 400,000 people in England who have survived cancer between ten and 20 years after diagnosis, according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support and the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN)1.
This study looks at the number of cancer survivors in England in more detail than ever before. The emerging research will be presented at the NCIN Cancer Outcomes conference in Brighton on 12th-14th June.
The findings show that a similar number of men and women survive the early years after diagnosis, however a gap between the sexes widens over time. Amongst those alive between ten and 20 years after diagnosis, there are almost twice as many women than men (around 260,000 compared with 140,000). The reasons for this gender gap will be explored further in the next stage of the study.
The charity warned last week (Friday 7 June) that though more people are surviving cancer, they are not necessarily living well. There is growing evidence that many do not return to full health after gruelling treatments and the serious side effects of the disease.
Susan Winter, 69 from Essex, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and has since had problems with lymphoedema as a consequence of her breast cancer operation. She says:
'My GP was very sympathetic and supported me through my treatment, but he admitted he had no idea what to do about my lymphoedema and what to suggest next. I also found that nurses at the hospital weren’t aware of it, with one even asking me if I had burned my arm.
'It gradually got worse and my arm was hugely swollen – I found this very upsetting as I couldn’t fit clothes properly because of my arm. If I hadn’t had family and friends nearby I would have felt very isolated, as I couldn’t drive when my arm was bad. It took me quite a long time to get the right treatment, and I still have problems with it to this day.'
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
'Whilst this is cause for celebration that more people are surviving cancer, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. The more successful we are with treatment and cure, the more people there will be living with the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment.
'By 2020 almost half the population in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, so we need to tackle the under-treatment of its long-term effects now. No one should be left to face the consequences of their cancer alone. Specialist services must be commissioned and more support given to GPs so they can identify the needs of cancer survivors and deliver personalised care in the community.'
No one should face cancer alone. The Macmillan team is here to support cancer survivors every step of the way. For more information visit www.macmillan.org.uk/survivorship or call 0808 808 00 00.
For further information, please contact:
Claire Keuls, Senior Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4872 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
This is preliminary research which is being showcased at the National Cancer Intelligence Network ‘Cancer Outcomes Conference’ 12th-14th June. The authors of the study are Lucy Irvine, Senior Macmillan-NCIN Data Fellow; Hannah McConnell, Data Lead, Macmillan Cancer Support; Sean McPhail, Senior Analyst, NCIN; and Luke Hounsome, Principal Cancer Intelligence Analyst, Knowledge and Intelligence Team (South West).
1 Around 400,000 people were still alive more than 10 and up to 20 years post-diagnosis in England at the end of 2010. This figure only includes people diagnosed over the 20 year period (1991-2010), so the total number of long-term survivors will be even higher.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
More than one in three of us will get cancer. For most of us it will be the toughest fight we ever face. And the feelings of isolation and loneliness that so many people experience make it even harder.
But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way.
We are the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment. The experts on the end of the phone. The advisers telling you which benefits you’re entitled to. The volunteers giving you a hand with the everyday things. The campaigners improving cancer care. The community there for you online, any time. The supporters who make it all possible.
Together, we are all Macmillan Cancer Support.
About the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), operated by Public Health England
The NCIN was established in June 2008 to coordinate the collection, analysis and publication of comparative national statistics on diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for all types of cancer. It is a UK wide partnership funded by multiple stakeholders.
The NCIN will drive improvements in the standards of care and clinical outcomes through exploiting data and support audit and research programmes by providing cancer information and patient care will be monitored through expert analyses of up-to-date statistics.
For more information please visit www.ncin.org.uk and www.gov.uk/phe