10 July 2017
Being diagnosed with cancer is now one of the most common life-changing events in people’s lives, Macmillan wants the public to be better informed about the reality of cancer diagnosis and treatment
There are more new cases of cancer each year than marriages in the UK, according to a new report from Macmillan Cancer Support.
The report, The C-Word: How we react to cancer today, reveals being diagnosed with cancer is one of the most common life-changing events in people’s lives. New analysis reveals:
- Cancer is more common than new marriages: Latest figures show there are over 70,000 more new cases of cancer each year in UK than new marriages[i].
- Cancer is more common than women having their first child: Latest figures show there are almost 50,000 more new cases of cancer each in year in England and Wales than women giving birthto their first child[ii].
- Cancer is as common as graduating: Latest figures show there are a similar number of undergraduate degrees awarded each year in the UK[iii], compared with new cases of cancer.
- Cancer affects many people at the “prime” of their life: More than 1.2 million people have been diagnosed with cancer under the age of 65 in the past 10 years, including more than 340,000 diagnosed in their 20s, 30s and 40s[iv].
Cancer is the most feared disease
Macmillan’s research reveals that while receiving a cancer diagnosis is an increasingly common life event, it is the disease people most fear getting (37%), ahead of Alzheimer’s (27%), stroke (7%), depression (4%), heart disease (4%) or multiple sclerosis (2%)[v].
For one in 10 people in the UK (10%), cancer is their biggest fear of all, ahead of losing a loved one, their own death or even terrorism[vi].
However, Macmillan’s report highlights that people’s perceptions and fears around cancer can be unhelpful in supporting them to understand their choices when they are diagnosed. When they were first told they had cancer, one in three people (34%) say they were in a daze and couldn’t take anything in[vii].
We all need to be better prepared and informed about cancer
As one in two people will get cancer at some point in their lives[viii] and more and more people are living longer after cancer[ix], Macmillan wants the public to have a better understanding of the reality of a cancer diagnosis.
The charity has released the report to coincide with the launch of its major new advertising campaign, Life with cancer, which Macmillan hopes will remove some of the fear around diagnosis and highlight the support that is available for people living with cancer today. The charity believes that life with cancer is still life and that people should have the right support in place to help them live it as normally as possible.
A positive new approach to cancer awareness, the campaign reflects the insight that 85% of people with cancer don’t want to be defined by the disease[x]. The series of recently released adverts, show that cancer doesn’t have to change who you are with an important message: life with cancer is still life.
Macmillan’s research shows that nine in ten (90%) people living with cancer say they are still living their lives as normally as they can[xi].
The charity believes that being as prepared as possible, knowing what to expect during and after treatment and being told what support is available from the moment of diagnosis, can support people to continue to live their lives.
Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Being told you have cancer changes your life, and it can leave people feeling as if they’ve been thrust into the unknown, bewildered and unprepared.
“But as more and more people are being diagnosed with cancer, it’s important that we are all better informed about what to expect if we do one day we receive this shocking news.
“Cancer is almost always life-changing, but it isn’t always life-ending. Life with cancer is still life – you’re still a dad, a sister, a grandparent, a friend. Macmillan has supported millions from the point of diagnosis, throughout their treatment and into the future. From our experience, we believe that living well with cancer begins at diagnosis. People should come away from those first appointments feeling informed about their choices and knowing what support is available.”
Jane Ives, 49, a mum of two from Hampshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. She says:
“Getting a diagnosis of cancer was probably the single most terrifying thing that has happened to me. My biggest fear by far was not seeing my children fully grow up. Not being there for those milestones in their lives – their graduations, their weddings maybe. But here I am three years on and in a few weeks I will be at my eldest’s graduation, which will be a huge moment for both of us. While the fear never quite leaves you – you realise life goes on after cancer and you appreciate the here and now.”
Macmillan’s new report, The C-Word: How we react to cancer today, explores what it’s like to receive a cancer diagnosis in 2017, how our fears and preconceptions affect us in the moment we’re told, and how each of us can be prepared for the news. This is essential in helping people to live their best possible life with cancer.
For further information, please contact:
Jess Owen, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2407 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Ashley Fryer, Media and PR Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7091 2037 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
Read the full report here - http://www.macmillan.org.uk/thecwordreport
The numbers of cancer diagnosed uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.
[i] In 2014 in the UK there were 289,841 marriages and 361,216 cancers diagnosed (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). This includes 252,222 marriages registered in England and Wales -(Office for National Statistics https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships/datasets/marriagesinenglandandwales2013); 29,069 weddings in Scotland. (National Records of Scotland https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//statistics/time-series/marriage-2016/mt-1-marriages-1855-to-year-current.xlsx). 8,550 weddings in Northern Ireland -(Northern Ireland Research and Statistics Agency https://www.nisra.gov.uk/sites/nisra.gov.uk/files/publications/marriages-LGD2014-2008-2015.xls). 299,856 cancers diagnosed in England in 2014 (Office for National Statistics. 2017 https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/datasets/cancerregistrationstatisticscancerregistrationstatisticsengland/2015/cancerregistrations2015final22.05.2017.xls). In Wales there were 19,826 cancers diagnosed in 2014 (Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk/opendoc/302629). In Scotland there were 32,366 cancers diagnosed in 2014 (ISD Scotland https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/2017-04-25/i_cancer_all_types.xls) . In Northern Ireland there were 9,168 cancers diagnosed in 2014 (N. Ireland Cancer Registry https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/FileStore/OfficialStats2015/INCIDENCEFINALOUTPUTS/Filetoupload,746088,en.xls)
[ii] There were 271,050 lives births in England and Wales in 2015 where the mother was known to have had zero previous births and 319,011 cancers diagnosed (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) in England and Wales in 2015. Based on Office for National Statistics. Birth by parents’ characteristics, 2015. November 2016. https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/datasets/birthsbyparentscharacteristics/2015/birthsbyparentscharacteristics2015v2.xls) 299,923 cancers diagnosed in England in 2015 (Office for National Statistics. 2017 https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/datasets/cancerregistrationstatisticscancerregistrationstatisticsengland/2015/cancerregistrations2015final22.05.2017.xls). In Wales there were 19,088 cancers diagnosed in 2015 (Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk/opendoc/302629).
[iii] Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students/qualifications Figure refers to number of undergraduate degrees awarded at third-class level or higher
[iv] Sum of cancer diagnosis (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) between 2015 and 2006 in people aged 0 to 64 and 20 to 49. Based on Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk/opendoc/303205. Personal correspondence (June 2017) with the N. Ireland Cancer Registry which is funded by the Public Health Agency. ISD Scotland https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/2017-04-25/i_cancer_all_types.xls . Extract from CancerStats and Office for National Statistics. 2017 https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/datasets/cancerregistrationstatisticscancerregistrationstatisticsengland/2015/cancerregistrations2015final22.05.2017.xls. This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.
[v] Macmillan Cancer Support/ ICM online survey of 2,096 UK adults. Fieldwork undertaken 22nd-24th March 2017. Survey results are weighted to be representative of the UK population. When asked which condition or disease people most feared getting themselves, 37% said cancer was their top fear, compared with 27% who said dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.
[vi] Macmillan Cancer Support/ ICM online survey of 2,096 UK adults. Fieldwork undertaken 22nd-24th March 2017. Survey results are weighted to be representative of the UK population. When asked what was people’s greatest fear of all, 10% of people chose cancer over a range of other options. 3% of people selected ‘other’ and 18% said they did not have any major fears.
[vii] Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov online survey of 1,020 UK adults with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th and 14th October 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK living with cancer population.
[viii] Macmillan Cancer Support. Cancer mortality trends: 1992–2020. 2013 http://www.macmillan.org.uk/documents/aboutus/newsroom/mortality-trends-2013-executive-summary-final.pdf in the report and press release
[ix] Quaresma M, Coleman MP and Rachet B. 40 year trends in an index of survival for all cancers combined and survival adjusted for age and sex for each cancer in England and Wales, 1971-2011: a population-based study. The Lancet 2014; 385: 1206-1218. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2961396-9/fulltext. Based on a net survival index for all types of cancer in England between the periods 1971–72 and 2010–11, the index is standardized for age, sex and cancer type.
[x] Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov survey of 2,005 people with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th - 29th March 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the population of those living with cancer
[xi] Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov survey of 2,005 people with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th - 29th March 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the population of those living with cancer.