SHAFAQNA – Cancer Research UK’s latest findings suggest one in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.
The new estimate has replaced a forecast of more than one in three people developing the disease.
But although it makes for pretty grim reading at first, there is some good that can be taken away from the new stats.
We’re living longer
One of the main factors behind the findings is that people are, in general, living longer meaning more people can be affected by cancer at some point.
Cancer Research UK added it wasn’t inevitable that one in two people will be diagnosed and that improving lifestyles, such as losing weight and quitting smoking, could have a major impact on chances of contracting cancer.
Lead researcher Professor Peter Sasieni, from Queen Mary University of London told the BBC that a healthy lifestyle could lower the lifetime risk from 50% to 30%.
Cancer survival is up
The findings also suggest cancer survival rates are rising.
Sean Duffy, the national clinical director for cancer at NHS England, said: “Cancer survival rates in England are at an all-time high, but this new forecast shows it is more important than ever to take a fresh look at how we can do even better.”
He said there needed to be action on three fronts – better prevention; swifter diagnosis; and better treatment, care and aftercare for all patients.
We’ve got healthier hearts
Another reason Cancer Research UK’s estimates have changed is because fewer deaths from heart disease and infections mean more people are living long enough to potentially develop the disease.
Last year a study found parts of Europe were reaching a “tipping point” where cardiovascular disease is no longer the leading cause of death, a study shows.
Don’t forget – it can be curable
According to Cancer research, 75% of breast cancer can be cured if it’s caught early enough
Lots of forms of cancers can be successfully treated these days.
Testicular cancer can be treated in adults and most skin cancers can be cured with surgery.
And many cases of thyroid cancer and cancer of the larynx (voice box) are cured with radiotherapy.
Many other types of cancer can also be treated if they are found early enough – for example, three quarters of breast cancers found at an early stage.
Of course, there is still a long way to go before most cancers can be classed as curable. The difficulty is that different cancers are caused by different things, so there isn’t one strategy that can prevent them all. They also respond to different treatments so no one treatment can cure them all.