Cancer trends - younger women, older men

Women in their late 30s and early 40s are twice as likely to contract cancer as men, according to official UK figures which also show that people in the North are at increased risk. The relatively high rate of cancer among 35-44 year-old women is largely due to breast cancer, while the most common male cancers tend to strike later according to experts.

Figures for 2011 released by the Office for National Statistics showed that breast cancer remained the most common cancer among women (30.7 per cent of new cases, affecting 42,000), ahead of lung (11.6 per cent) and colorectal (11.2 per cent).

But the figures showed that elderly men have much higher cancer rates than elderly women.

Men aged 65-69 have a 37 per cent higher chance of contracting the disease than women of the same age, with that figure raising to 63 per cent among over-85s.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, statistical information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Even though you’re more likely to get breast cancer when you’re older there are some younger women who contract it. Overall, however, men are more likely to get cancer than women across all ages. You’re about 14 per cent more likely to develop cancer at some point if you’re a man.”

Some 139,120 men in the UK were registered as having cancer in 2011 compared with 135,113 women, with both figures likely to rise by the time additional hospital admissions are included in the statistics. The most common cancers for men remained prostate (25.6 per cent), lung (13.8 per cent) and colorectal (13.6 per cent).

Cancer rates were higher than expected for both sexes in the north of England and also for women in the East Midlands and South West regions, a trend Mr Ormiston-Smith suggested might be related to deprivation.

He said: “There is evidence that people from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to develop cancer”.

Responding to figures published by the ONS, Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It is startling that the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed has soared by nearly a fifth in the last ten years.

July - Oct 2013 Cancer Watch
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