A leading cancer charity predicts that the disease will become a fact of life for the over 65s within the next thirty years, because of increasing cancer survival rates and an ageing population.
A study by King’s College London worked out how common cancer would be in the future. Writing in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers predict that across all age groups it would increase by one million every decade between 2010 and 2040, with the largest increase in the over 65s.
Since age is the biggest risk factor for cancer, greater life expectancy is expected to push up rates. In 2010, 1.3 million people over the age of 65 had cancer. This figure is predicted to reach 4.1 million in the next thirty years, leading to one in four over 65s being diagnosed with the disease.
Increasing cancer survival rates is another reason behind the predicted rise. More cancers are being diagnosed, with earlier diagnosis and advances in treatment resulting in people with or without private health insurance living longer with cancer.
However, Ciaran Devane, the chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support which funded the research, said that the study needed to act "as a warning to the NHS". She said: “We have a moral duty to give people the best chance of beating cancer, regardless of their age.”
"For cancer survival to improve, older people must be given the right treatment at the correct level of intensity, together with the practical support to enable them to take it up.”
"The barriers to older people getting treatment must be tackled. If we don't get this right now many older people will be dying unnecessarily from cancer in the future."
The Department of Health said was good news that better treatments meant more people were surviving cancer. A spokesperson said: "From 1 October 2012, it will be unlawful to discriminate in health and social care on the basis of age."
Dr Richard Theo of ActiveQuote commented: “Medical developments mean that cancer is becoming more treatable. Those who want to be covered for private cancer treatment in the future should look for health insurance quotes with full cancer cover.”
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012