47% 'to receive cancer diagnosis'
In just seven years' time almost one out of every two people will be expected to get cancer during their lifetime, a charity has warned.
Macmillan Cancer Support has projected that by 2020, 47% of people in the UK will be diagnosed with the disease. However, almost four in 10 patients (38%) will not die from it, a spokeswoman said.
The charity warned the stark rise in the number of people who get, and survive, cancer poses a "Herculean" challenge to the NHS.
Experts analysed existing data on cancer prevalence, incidence and mortality and found the proportion of people who will develop cancer at some point in their lives has increased by more than a third over the past two decades.
In 1992, 32% of people who died that year had been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives and by 2010, this had risen to 44%.
However, the number who get cancer who do not die from the disease has increased by 67% over the past 20 years - in 1992, around one in five people who had been diagnosed with cancer ultimately died from another cause, and by 2010, this had risen to more than one in three.
The charity said that although the survival trend is "encouraging", there is growing evidence that many cancer patients do not return to full health after treatments and the serious side effects of the disease.
"That we live longer as a nation, and that we are improving cancer treatment, are things to celebrate," said Macmillan's chief medical officer Professor Jane Maher.
"We do, however, need to add a serious note of caution: the more successful we are with treatment and cure, the more people we have living with the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment.
"Many patients can be left with physical health and emotional problems long after treatment has ended. People struggle with fatigue, pain, immobility, or an array of other troublesome side-effects."