New estimates suggest that deaths from cancer in the UK are projected to increase by more than 50% in the next 26 years. Experts from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reported that there were 454,954 new cases of cancer in the UK in 2022, with projections indicating an expected rise to 624,582 by 2050. Additionally, the number of cancer-related deaths in Britain is anticipated to increase from 181,807 in 2022 to 279,004 by 2050, marking a 53% increase according to researchers.
The projected increase in cancer rates is attributed to the UK’s expanding and aging population. However, researchers emphasize the need for new policies addressing smoking, unhealthy diets, obesity, and alcohol consumption to mitigate the anticipated rise in cases. The study, which analyzed cancer data from 115 countries, predicts a global increase of 77%, from 20 million cases in 2022 to 35 million in 2050. Additionally, cancer-related deaths worldwide are expected to nearly double from 9.7 million to 18.5 million during the same period, according to the organizations’ estimates.
The IARC experts noted that the global population is projected to increase from 8 billion to nearly 10 billion in the next 26 years, significantly impacting the number of new cancer cases. Dr. Panagiota Mitrou, the director of research, policy, and innovation at the World Cancer Research Fund, emphasized that the new estimates highlight the growing burden of cancer in the future. She added that the failure of UK governments to prioritize prevention and address key cancer risk factors such as smoking, unhealthy diets, obesity, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity has contributed to widening health inequalities.
Dr. Mitrou emphasized that approximately 40% of cancer cases can be prevented. She stressed the importance of implementing policies aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles and prioritizing a national cancer plan to address this issue. According to the organizations, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women in the UK, while prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed among men. Lung and bowel cancer are also prevalent among both men and women.
The WHO and the IARC issued a warning on Thursday as the NHS grapples with deteriorating waiting times for cancer diagnosis and treatment. According to the latest data released by the NHS in January, the number of patients waiting more than two months for their initial cancer appointment after an urgent referral has risen to 6,817, compared to 1,704 patients in 2015.