One in Two Will Have Cancer at Some Point in Life

One in Two Will Have Cancer at Some Point in LifeOne in Two Will Have Cancer at Some Point in Life

One in two people will develop a cancer at some point in their lives, experts now estimate.

Previous calculations that indicated cancer will affect just over one in three people were underestimating the scale of the disease, according to a new analysis by Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

However, because of advances in treatment and early detection, more people are now surviving cancer.

Two-thirds of the increase in risk can be attributed to the fact “we are now living longer and cancer is a disease that becomes more likely the older we get.” The additional third is down to changes in lifestyle, CRUK said. The study calculates the lifetime risk of cancer for men born in the UK in 1960 is 53.5 percent and for women 47.55%, averaging at 50.5%. The risk is likely to increase for people born after 1960, and CRUK said it was confident in predicting that this meant at least half the population can now expect to get cancer, says an online article in the Independent.

 Old Age Disease

“Cancer is primarily a disease of old age, with more than 60% of all cases diagnosed in people aged over 65,” said cancer specialist Prof. Peter Sasieni, who led the new study. If people live long enough then most will get cancer at some point.

“But there’s a lot we can do to make it less likely – like giving up smoking, being more active, drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight.”

Recent estimates suggest that half of people who get cancer now survive the disease for 10 years or more – so it is projected that despite more cases, the number of deaths attributed to cancer will remain stable at around one in four.

Changes in lifestyle that have contributed to the increase in cancer risk include an increase in obesity and higher consumption of red and processed meats. Women having babies later and breastfeeding less are also raising their chance of developing breast cancer.

CRUK’s chief executive Harpal Kumar, said that the NHS faced a challenge to ensure it was “fit to cope” with the increase in cases. “If the NHS doesn’t act and invest now, we will face a crisis in the future – with outcomes from cancer going backwards,” he said.