The number of cancer survivors in the UK is increasing by about 3% each year, according to new estimates, and grew from 1.2 million in 1992 to approximately 2 million at the end of 2008.
A study published in the British Journal of Cancer this month says this represented approximately 2.7% of men and 3.8% of women, or 3% of the UK population overall.
The two most common cancers – prostate cancer and breast cancer – have shown some of the largest increases in incidence and improvements in survival of all cancers in the UK since 1992, the study team from Kings College London reported.
Using data from cancer registries in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the researchers provided up-to-date estimates of cancer prevalence.
Dr Jacob Maddams, of Kings College London, and colleagues said: “Identifying and addressing the requirements of cancer survivors in England is a high priority. . . and, as a result, the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative was set up in 2008.”
Similar initiatives are underway in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, they noted, but 1992 was the most recent estimate of cancer survivors in the UK.
The number of cancer survivors varied within the UK, they said, and Northern Ireland, for example, with the youngest population, also had the lowest prevalence proportion. Wales, with the oldest population, had the highest prevalence proportion.
“These estimates are the most up-to-date available, and as such will be useful for statutory and voluntary sector organisations that are responsible for planning and providing treatment and support to cancer survivors in the United Kingdom,” concluded the authors.
British Journal of Cancer (2009) 101, 541–547