Cancer Research UK expects around two million people to be diagnosed with cancer in the UK during the length of the next parliament according to new figures released today (Wednesday).

“Tackling cancer and achieving world class outcomes for people across the country must be a priority for the next Government.” – Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK

The charity estimates that the yearly number of those given a cancer diagnosis will exceed 400,000 by 2020, climbing from an annual figure of around 357,000 in 2014.

The figures, calculated for 2017 to 2021, reveal the increasing number of people who will need to be diagnosed, treated and cared for by an already struggling health service.

Diagnostic services have not kept up with demand as the number of patients waiting too long to start treatment after being urgently referred for tests has continued to grow. In England, the target of 85 per cent of patients starting treatment within 62 days has not been met for three years.

More people than ever are being diagnosed with and treated for cancer, but if the NHS cannot meet growing demand, more people are at risk of having to wait longer for treatment, or receiving a late diagnosis.

In 2015 a new Cancer Strategy for England was published which outlined clear steps that needed to be taken if the health service is to provide patients with cancer care equal to the best in the world.

Cancer Research UK is urging all parties to renew commitment to delivering the Cancer Strategy.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and information, said: “Tackling cancer and achieving world class outcomes for people across the country must be a priority for the next Government. We know that action must be taken and the Cancer Strategy provides a plan for how to do this – but it can only be achieved by ensuring the NHS has the resources to prevent, diagnose and treat more people.”


* In 2014 around 357,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK. Projected cancer cases over the next five years show:


Health is a devolved issue. This General Election will see the public voting for the next UK Government, which is responsible for the NHS in England. The administrations Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have responsibility for their own health systems.

Calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK, 2016. Based on the total number of projected new cancer cases (ICD10 C00-C97,excl C44) between 2017-2021, from Cancer incidence and mortality projections in the UK until 2035. Smittenaar et al, 2016.

Read more about Cancer Research UK’s four priority areas for the 2017 General Election: