One in four over-65s 'will have had cancer by 2040'
03:33 GMT, 20 August 2012
Almost one in four older people will have had a cancer diagnosis by 2040, warns a leading charity.
The number of people aged 65 and over who will be cancer survivors is set to triple from 1.3 million in 2010 to 4.1 million, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
It funded research by King's College London which predicts a dramatic rise in Britons living with cancer, around one million per decade from 2010 to 2040.
Research shows men living with cancer will rise from 2.8 per cent in 2010 to 6.2 per cent in 2040, and from 3.9 per cent to 8.5 per cent of women
The biggest increases will be in the oldest age groups, with survivors of breast and prostate cancer forming the largest groups of survivors.
Startling figures reveal older people in the UK will account for three-quarters of all people living with a cancer diagnosis by 2040, up from two-thirds in 2010.
Altogether 23 per cent of older people will have had a cancer diagnosis in 2040 – compared with 13 per cent in 2010 – and nearly four times the proportion of people aged 45-64 years (six per cent).
Not only will there be more cancer survivors, they will account for a larger proportion of the population.
The research shows men living with
cancer will go up from 2.8 per cent in 2010 to 6.2 per cent in 2040, and
from 3.9 per cent to 8.5 per cent of women.
research, published on the British Journal of Cancer's website,
produced cancer rate projections based on current data and existing
trends in incidence and survival.
Lung cancer in older men is expected to fall due to a dramatic decline in smoking among men in England since the 1970s
Lung cancer in older women will see the biggest increase.
The prevalence of lung cancer in older women will more than double from in 2010 to 2040 (from 319 to 831 cases per 100,000).
However, lung cancer in older men is expected to fall due to a dramatic decline in smoking among men in England since the 1970s.
Researchers say the UK's ageing population, increasing cases of the disease and better survival rates are contributing to unprecedented numbers of people living with cancer.
More cancers are being diagnosed, with earlier diagnosis and advances in treatment resulting in people living longer with cancer, said Professor Henrik Mller, one of the study authors at King's College London.
He said long term projections suggest growing strains on the NHS and community care services.
'The research shows that large increases can be expected in the oldest age groups in the coming decades and with this an increased demand upon health services.
'It is vitally important therefore, that careful plans are laid so that resources exist to meet the needs of cancer survivors in the future' he added.
Ciarn Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said older cancer patients were less likely to receive cancer treatments routinely offered to younger patients, while a lack of practical support at home prevented them from going to hospital to get treatment.
He said 'The care of older cancer patients is the ticking time bomb for society. These stark predictions should act as a warning to the NHS and social care providers of the problems ahead if older cancer patients are not offered the best treatment and support.
'We have a moral duty to give people the best chance of beating cancer, regardless of their age. For cancer survival to improve, older people must be given the right treatment at the correct level of intensity, together with the practical support to enable them to take it up.
'The barriers to older people getting treatment must be tackled. If we don't get this right now many older people will be dying unnecessarily from cancer in the future.'
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said 'These figures bring into focus the challenges facing the NHS now and into the future. It is vital that the NHS gets better at caring for older people and removes the barriers many older people face in accessing treatment.
'Of particular concern is the continuing trend for treatment to be driven by a patient's age, rather than their needs or physical condition, which means that treatable problems can often go unaddressed. Health professionals can underestimate how well an older person will respond to treatment and this can mean people are not getting the treatment that could prolong their life and improve their wellbeing.
'Similar figures could apply across a number of health conditions, as do the barriers. If we are to get the most from living longer and in the face of growing health needs, the NHS and health professionals must urgently address how they care for older people.'
A Department of Health spokesman said 'It's good news that improvements in cancer treatment mean more people are surviving after cancer. We know more can be done to improve cancer care for older people which is why we are working with Macmillan Cancer Support and Age UK on a 1 million programme to ensure that older people's needs are properly assessed and met.
'From 1 October 2012, it will be unlawful to discriminate in health and social care on the basis of age. Adults of all ages will benefit from better access to services, and for the first time people will have a legal right to redress from the courts if they are unjustifiably discriminated against because of their age.'