It has been revealed that by the time we reach 2040, one in four people aged over 65 will have been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. This means that there will be a dramatic increase in the number of cancer survivors. Between 2010 and 2040, the figure will triple from 1.3 million to 4.1 million, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Out of those survivors, the two largest groups will be formed from those who had previously suffered from breast and prostate cancer. The most significant increase in survivors will be most noticeable through the older age groups. 23% of those over 65 will have had a cancer diagnosis by 2040, and this is almost four times as many people compared to those in the 45 – 64-year-old age group.
By this point, cancer survivors will make up a much more significant proportion of the population compared to what we are experiencing at present. Macmillan has shown that there will be an increase of men living with cancer, going from 2.8% to 6.2% by 2040, with a rise in women living with cancer going from 3.9% to 8.5%. These figures are based on projections using current data and existing trends in incidence and survival produced by the British Journal of Cancer.
The fact that we will see a more significant number of cancer survivors also means that it will see a more considerable increase in the number of cases of cancer diagnosis. The most significant increase will be the number of cases of women contracting lung cancer. Lung cancer cases will more than double by the time we reach 2040. In contrast to this, the number of lung cancer cases amongst older men is believed to drop as a result of a dramatic decrease in male smokers in England since the 1970s.
Cancer cases are more and more familiar with an increase in the number being diagnosed all the time; earlier diagnosis and advances in cancer prevention mean people are living longer with cancer. Now that people generally have better survival rates from cancer diagnosis, there is an unprecedented number of people living with cancer. However, these trends mean that there will be a continued strain on the NHS and community care services over the long term. To prepare for this, careful planning needs to be conducted to make sure that the needs of cancer survivors are met in the future.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health has stated that it is a good thing that improvements in cancer treatment mean that more people are now surviving cancer. Far more needs to be done to help improve cancer care for older people, and the Department of Health is working with Macmillan to help ensure their needs are being met. From the 1st of October, it will be against the law for discrimination to take place based on a patient’s age. It’s believed that all generation of adults will benefit from this new increased access to services, and will also mean people will have a legal right to challenge if they feel they have been discriminated against as a result of their age.