The Future: More People Diagnosed With - and Living With - Cancer
There’s always hope that, someday, we’ll find a cure for cancer. And let’s hope so – because a new study indicates that the number of people who get cancer is going to continue to grow for decades. In fact, the research from the United Kingdom shows that the number of British senior citizens living with cancer will more than triple over the next 30 years.
King’s College of London and Macmillan Cancer Support report that in 2010, 1.3 million British seniors had cancer. Based upon current trends and projected demographics, they project that, by 2040, that number will be 4.1 million. That would mean that a quarter of all people over 65 in the UK would have cancer.
How does that compare to the United States? To a certain extent, we’re comparing apples and oranges because no one has done an identical study. But as of 2008, there were almost 12 million living Americans with a history of cancer. And a couple years ago, there were about one million American senior citizens living with cancer. A study similar to the one done in the UK predicted that the number of American seniors diagnosed with cancer would increase at a much slower rate – about 67 percent over the next 20 years. But that’s comparing total cases (in the UK) with new diagnoses (in the US), which isn’t exactly the same thing.
There is good news in the numbers from the UK study – more people over the age of 65 with cancer means that more people are living with cancer. That can be attributed to advances in treatments that allow patients to both survive and, more and more, to thrive.
We’re seeing people living and working and keeping on as they battle cancer. It isn’t an easy existence, but people are doing it; an increasing number of lucky folks are able to receive treatments and keep working.
But it also means that there is going to be an increasing number of people seeking cancer treatment. Macmillan Cancer Support called the report from the UK “a ticking time bomb for society.” It’s impossible to know how many of those future patients will receive the proper level of treatment, and how the challenge of treating them will be met.
But advances in treatment are continuing to get better all the time. So while the number may seem daunting, there’s still plenty of reason for hope.
For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System Cancer Services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org. You can also call 1-866-695-HOPE (4673) to request an appointment with a physician who cares for cancer patients.