The number of people being diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year has hit more than 330,000 for the first time, according to the latest figures* published by Cancer Research UK today (Tuesday).
“Research is the only way we’ll be able to reduce the devastating impact of the disease. One day we will beat cancer. The more research we do, the sooner that day will come.” – Harpal Kumar, chief executive, Cancer Research UK
While more people than ever are being diagnosed with cancer, research has led to more people surviving the disease. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years thanks to improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
In 2001 there were around 283,000 cases diagnosed which means there has been an increase of nearly 50,000** over 10 years.
The main reason for the increase in cases is the ageing population. As there are more people living longer, more will develop the disease.
The figures are published as Cancer Research UK continues its campaign to raise awareness of the importance of research in beating cancer and reducing its devastating impact.
Overall rates of people being diagnosed with cancer have climbed by a more than a third (35 per cent) between 1975*** and 2011. In 1975, around 295 per 100,000 were diagnosed with the disease. This increased to almost 400 per 100,000 in 2011****. This increase is partly because of risk factors such as drinking alcohol and being overweight.
Research has helped to improve the outcome for many. In the 1970s 23 per cent of cancer patients survived ten years. This climbed to around 46 per cent in 2007.
Lorna Ross, 57, from London was 51 when a scan picked up the fact she had breast cancer. Her sons James and William were just 15 and 10 when she got the devastating news in October 2007. After surgery Lorna had four weeks of radiotherapy followed by a course of tamoxifen – a drug that Cancer Research UK helped to show the benefits of. Lorna has now finished her treatment and continues to have mammograms every three years.
Lorna said: “The cancer was so small, a tiny invasive growth. It wouldn’t have been picked up for many months or possibly years. The most difficult thing was telling the boys. My first thought was – ‘Oh God I want to see them grow up.’ It’s tricky because I didn’t want to worry them with terrible news. My life was on hold while I began treatment and learnt what was going to happen. Thanks to the treatment and the team who looked after me, my family and I have been able to return to a regular life. Research saves lives, and it was research that developed the drugs that helped me beat cancer.”
Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “These figures reinforce the vital need for more research to better prevent, treat and cure cancer. As the population ages, more people than ever before will be told: ‘you have cancer’. Research is the only way we’ll be able to reduce the devastating impact of the disease. One day we will beat cancer. The more research we do, the sooner that day will come.”
For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.
* The figures show 331,487 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK in 2011, rising from 329,547 in 2010.
** The exact figure of the increase in the number of cases is 48,638 over 10 years.
Latest available UK statistics for cancer incidence figures are from 2011. Cancer statistics are compiled from data produced by the regional cancer registries in England, and the three national registries in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which means that before UK statistics can be published, it is necessary to wait until all of the data has been published by each country. The process of registering a cancer is complex and there are a number of processes in place to ensure the data is of a high quality but this means there is usually a delay of around 12-18 months before the data is complete enough for them to be published.
*** 1975 is the earliest that comprehensive figures date from for Great Britain.
**** Annual average European age-standardised incidence rate in Great Britain was 294 per 100,000 people between 1975-77 and 399 per 100,000 people between 2009-11.
Read the latest UK cancer statistics here.