Cancer cases to top 500,000 a year by 2040 - a rise of a third, charity warns

The number of people in the UK diagnosed with cancer will rise by a third by 2040, taking the number of new cases every year to more than half a million, figures show.

If current trends continue, cancer cases will rise from the 384,000 per year now to 506,000 in 2040, according to Cancer Research UK analysis.

And the charity said the "NHS risks being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new cancer diagnoses" unless the government takes action.

Cancer Research UK's chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: "Today's analysis provides a stark reminder of the challenges the NHS in England is set to face in years to come.

"Cancer patients are already facing unacceptably long waits for diagnosis and treatment, and staff in cancer services are working very hard.

"On World Cancer Day, we are demanding that the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak provides long-term, lasting solutions to ensure cancer survival dramatically improves in England.

"A 10-year cancer plan that will prepare cancer services for the future, give people affected by cancer the care they deserve and the resources - people and equipment - the NHS needs, is essential."

While most of the rise is due to an ageing population (older people are more likely to get cancer), the charity also said issues such as obesity are contributing to the rise.

Around four in 10 cancer cases are preventable, with the two biggest preventable causes being smoking and being overweight or obese.

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Cancer Research UK figures also estimate there will be 208,000 overall cancer deaths in the UK each year by 2040 - an increase of almost a quarter from the 167,000 seen now.

In total, there could be 8.4 million new cases of cancer and 3.5 million cancer deaths in the UK between 2023 and 2040.

Some 60% of cases (up from 50% now) and 76% of deaths will be in people aged 70 and over, it added.

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The charity said action was needed to prevent more cancers, to diagnose and treat cancers faster, invest in research and innovation, and address the "chronic" staff and equipment shortages within the NHS.

It said the UK was not on track to meet its target of creating a Smokefree England by 2030, while junk food marketing restrictions have been "pushed back" even further by the government.

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