Cancer to Strike One in Two in U.K.: CRUK Report

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Chilling statistics were released last week by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), saying one in two people in Britain will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and that more effort must be made to prevent people getting the disease. Until now, CRUK’s scientists have estimated that one in three people would get cancer at some point; these new figures are from a paper published in the British Journal of Cancer and is based on a more accurate way of calculating the risk. It means that half of those born after 1960 can expect a diagnosis at some point in the future. For those born earlier, the risk remains at one in three.

More people are getting cancer mainly because they are living longer, as cancer is primarily a disease of old age, with more than 60 percent of all cases diagnosed in people aged over 65, says Professor Peter Sasieni, who is based at Queen Mary University London, and is the author of the paper. So the bottom line is, if people live long enough, most will get cancer at some point.

The new calculation comes from a different way of assessing people’s lifetime risk of cancer. In the past, it has been worked out on the notion that the risk people are born with remains the same throughout their life. This paper takes into account the changes in the population in the future from more people growing older and lifestyle changes such as eating, drinking, smoking, and other habits that have an effect on cancer rates. Therefore, the risk of cancer for someone born before 1960 is lower than that of someone born after that date, which will be partly because those born later are likely to live longer! Interestingly the paper highlights that the lifetime risk for women is lower than that for men, at 47.5 percent compared with 53.5 percent.

CRUK and Professor Sasieni do emphasize that many cancers are preventable. These days, there is a lot we can do to make it less likely by giving up smoking, being more active, drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight. Prevention is key to saving lives. More than four in every ten cancers could be prevented by changes in people’s lifestyles.

On an up note, while more people may get cancer, more are beating it. Cancer survival has improved enormously, says CRUK, doubling since the 1970s through earlier detection and improved treatment. Half of those newly diagnosed with cancer will survive for at least ten years. However, CRUK believes that there will never be a single cure for cancer, as there are 200 types of cancer and they are all quite different; there will never be one single magic bullet that cures all cancers. If we want to reduce the risk of developing the disease, we must redouble our efforts and take action now to better prevent the disease for future generations.

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