21 June 2010
New figures from the National Cancer Intelligence Network show that more people are living with and beyond cancer.
The report, launched by Macmillan Cancer Support, shows the variation across the UK in the number of people alive after a cancer diagnosis in the last one, five and ten years. This data highlighting cancer prevalence is useful for long term cancer care, for planning local treatment and to support services of patients living with a diagnosis of cancer.
There are currently two million people living with a cancer diagnosis1. This figure is increasing at a rate of 3% per year so the number will increase in future years. At the end of 2006, there were 1.1 million people in the UK (1,501 per 100,000) living with and beyond cancer, who had been diagnosed with cancer up to ten years ago. By nation, this equates to 939,000 people in England; 100,000 in Scotland; 63,000 in Wales; and 29,000 in Northern Ireland.
For all cancers, Dorset Cancer Network had the highest proportion of people living with and beyond cancer, with the lowest prevalence in Sussex Cancer Network for ten years from diagnosis.
Across the United Kingdom, the highest prevalence was for women living with and beyond breast cancer and for men living with and beyond prostate cancer. These cancers have relatively good prognosis, and account for larger proportions of cancer prevalence than they do for cancer incidence. Female breast cancer accounted for 48 per cent of female cancer prevalence (296,000 females) in those who had been diagnosed with cancer up to ten years ago; prostate cancer accounted for 36 per cent of male cancer prevalence (181,000 males).
Colorectal cancer was the second most prevalent cancer in males (15 per cent) and females (10 per cent), with around 144,000 people. Lung cancer has a poor prognosis and therefore accounts for a very small proportion (3-4 per cent) of ten year cancer prevalence, with around 38,000 people.
Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
'This new cancer map should be used to help shape the NHS services of the future. The long term health problems of people living with and beyond cancer are creating an increasing pressure on the NHS. We know from research that the long term impact cancer treatment has on patients can be very debilitating and require further treatment and support. These new statistics show that cancer is no longer necessarily a death sentence and NHS services need to adapt to offer the right long term care to these people.'
Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, said:
'It's great news that survival rates for many cancers are improving. This will provide increased hope to patients undergoing treatment and their families.
'Our next step is to ensure the very best care for all cancer survivors. We are working in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to identify improvements that can be made. It is vital that everyone receives the level of support they need following treatment.'
Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Cancer Director, said:
'Survival rates for cancer are improving year by year, with more people being alive at any one time who have had a diagnosis of cancer. These maps, based on data from cancer registries, shed new light on the geography of cancer in the UK. Through the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI) we are working to ensure that survivors get the care and support they need to lead as healthy and active a life as possible, for as long as possible.'
One, Five and Ten-Year Cancer Prevalence, UK, 2006 report published today by the National Cancer Intelligence Network, in conjunction with Macmillan Cancer Support, is available on the NCIN website: www.ncin.org.uk/analysis
Notes to Editors
 Maddams J, et al. Cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom: estimates for 2008. British Journal of Cancer. 2009. 101: 541-547.
Cancer prevalence: the number of people, or the proportion of the population, who have been diagnosed with cancer and are still alive on a specific date; in this case 10-year prevalence includes those at the end of 2006 who had been diagnosed with cancer up to ten years ago. The data is an indicator of the burden of cancer and can help inform health care service planning.
Age-standardised proportion: age-standardised to the European Standard Population per 100,000 population. This controls for differences in the age structure of populations between geographical areas or over time, to allow unbiased comparison.
Cancer incidence: the number or rate of newly diagnosed cases of cancer in the population.
The report presents for one, five and ten year prevalence of cancer in the United Kingdom, the English and Scottish cancer networks, with national estimates for Wales and Northern Ireland, for patients diagnosed between 1997 and 2006. Information is provided for all cancers excluding non-melanoma skin cancer (C00-C97 xC44) and for the 22 most common cancers.
The prevalence figures published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) were produced in collaboration with Thames Cancer Registry, which was funded in part by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Prevalence figures are currently increasing at a rate of 3.2% per year (based on the England prevalence data). [Source: Maddams J, et al. Cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom: estimates for 2008. British Journal of Cancer, 2009. 101: 541-547.] This is likely to increase still further in the future with continued improvements in treatments and early detection and the population getting older.
In England, Macmillan is working with the Government on the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI) to look at the issues facing cancer survivors so when the medical treatment finishes, care and support doesn’t.
People living with and after cancer have varied and long term needs beyond the medical treatment they get. The issues Macmillan will be addressing through the NCSI in England are:
- Better support following treatment – A comprehensive package of care for each individual reaching far beyond hospital care, providing emotional, financial and practical support for people living with cancer well into life after treatment.
- Helping people to help themselves – Giving better information and support to enable people to make decisions about their own care, reducing their reliance on health and social care services.
- Tackling financial hardship – Better access to information and specialist services about financial help is vital. A National Audit Office report found over three-quarters of cancer patients are not given financial support information at any point during their cancer treatment.
- Getting people back to work – Improvements in policy and practice are needed to help people get back into employment as soon as they feel able. Macmillan calls for further development of NHS vocational rehabilitation.
- Tackling the long term effects of treatment – Long term effects of cancer treatments may not occur until years after treatment but can have a debilitating impact. There needs to be a system for GPs to monitor long term effects better.
- Better emotional and psychological support – Severe stress, depression, and anxiety are commonly experienced by cancer patients. More effective long term emotional support is required to help people overcome the emotional scars created by cancer.
- Ensuring that there is good research evidence – to support decisions made about how to invest resources for cancer survivors.
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer. We provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support and push for better cancer care. Visit www.macmillan.org.uk
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