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Cancer cases have risen 12% since mid-1990s

Gender divide persists, with more men than women diagnosed every year

Caroline White

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

More than 352,000 people are now diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year, representing a 12 per cent increase in the rate since the mid-1990s, show new figures released by Cancer Research UK.

Two decades ago, more than 253,000 people were diagnosed with cancer every year. The rise in the number of diagnoses is down to an aging and growing UK population.

In 1993-5, the rate was 540 per 100,000 of the population, rising to 603 per 100,000 in 2011-13.

But there’s a consistent gender divide, the figures show, with more men than women diagnosed with the disease each year. More than 179,000 men are diagnosed yearly in the UK compared with nearly 173,000 women.

Among women, the annual rates are 545 per 100,000 compared with 684 per 100,000 men.

But while the numbers of new diagnoses continue to rise, the chances of survival have also climbed, doubling, overall, during the past 40 years, thanks to better diagnostics, screening, and treatment.

And deaths from cancer have fallen by nearly 10 per cent in a decade, the figures show.

Nevertheless survival rates for some forms of cancer remain stubbornly low. These include lung, pancreatic, and gullet cancers, which are often diagnosed at a later stage, when they’re much harder to treat.

“People are living longer so more people are getting cancer. But the good news is more people are surviving their cancer. There’s still a huge variation in survival between different cancer types and there’s a lot of work to do to reach Cancer Research UK’s ambition for three in four patients to survive their disease by 2034,” commented Nick Ormiston-Smith, Cancer Research UK’s head of statistical information.

One in two people will now develop cancer at some point in their lifetime, but more than four in ten cases of cancer could be prevented through making lifestyle changes including not smoking.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “People often think cancer is down to their genes or just bad luck. Although genes do play a role there are still many things people can do to reduce their cancer risk. The most important is to not smoke. Most people know smoking causes lung cancer, but it’s also linked to at least 13 other types.”

He added: “We also know that maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising and eating a healthy balanced diet is important. There is no guarantee against cancer but there are things we can do to make us less likely to get it, and things that the government can do to help us to make the right choices and protect future generations.”

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