Macmillan Cancer Support warn of forthcoming cancer timebomb

In contrast to the rather self-congratulatory, give-us-more-funds approach of Cancer Research UK, comes a stark warning from Macmillan who are saying that the health service faces a timebomb of new cancer cases and people living with cancer. In particular it emphasises breast cancer, with the number of over 65s who have been diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives due to almost quadruple by 2040. 

The number will rise from 340,000 today to 1.2 million by 2040, according to academics at King’s College London. 

Better diagnosis, better treatment and an ageing population will all contribute to the increase, they say. Big increases are expected in the numbers of ’cancer survivors’ for all forms of the disease. Cancer survivors include both patients still undergoing treatment and those who only go back for check-ups. 

However, the rise in the number of breast cancer patients is expected to grow faster than most. 

Ciarn Devane, chief executive of the charity Macmillan Cancer Support, said: The NHS needs to take heed of these figures. It is already struggling to provide adequate care for older breast cancer patients. We need to change the way we care for older breast cancer patients now - so that we are prepared for such a dramatic increase in numbers. 

He said: In the past, people with cancer just died. But now they are going through their treatment, which is fantastic, but they are going to suffer side-effects and consequences of their treatment. "Radiotherapy affects the heart, for instance, while breast cancer surgery can weaken the upper arms. Having cancer also hits people’s self confidence. 

Writing in the British Journal of Cancer, experts forecast: By 2040, almost a quarter of people aged at least 65 will be cancer survivors.

Ed: What is so very worrying is that neither MacMillan nor Cancer Research UK take any firm grip on the issue of prevention. It is all so sad. Let’s focus on treatment and care and spend fortunes of money the country doesn’t have doing it. It is a bizarre strategy and only you, the patient, suffers.

October - December Cancer Watch 2012
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