Survival rates have also increased over past 40 years, but researchers emphasise that four in 10 cases could have been prevented by lifestyle changes
The number of people in the UK diagnosed with cancer has risen by 12% since the mid-90s, according to Cancer Research UK.
Between 2011 and 2013 there were 603 cases diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in Britain - this compares to 540 per 100,000 people between 1993 and 1995.
But the charity said that even though the chances of getting cancer have increased, the chances of surviving the disease have also climbed.
Earlier diagnosis, screening programmes, better tests and treatments have all led to the chances of surviving cancer doubling over the last 40 years. Death rates, too have fallen by nearly 10% over 10 years.
“People are living longer so more people are getting cancer. But the good news is more people are surviving their cancer,” said Nick Ormiston-Smith, Cancer Research UK’s head of statistical information, “There’s still a huge variation in survival between different cancer types and there’s a lot of work to do to reach Cancer Research UK’s ambition for three in four patients to survive their disease by 2034.”
More than 352,000 people are diagnosed with one form of cancer each year. with 179,000 cases in men, compared with 173,000 women. Although population growth and population ageing are factors, there are other pressures responsible for the increase in rates, says Casey Dunlop, the charity’s health information officer.
“Obesity rates are increasing, people are drinking more over the last 50 years so that is going to be having an effect,” she said.
Lung, pancreatic and oesophageal cancer are examples where survival is still low - partly because they tend to be diagnosed at a later stage when they’re much harder to treat.
Four in 10 cases of cancer could have been prevented by lifestyle changes, the researchers say. Peter Johnson, the charity’s chief clinician, said cancer was not just a matter of genetic inheritance or chance. There were still things people could do to reduce risk.
“The most important is not to smoke. Most people know smoking causes lung cancer, but it’s linked to at least 13 other types. We also know that maintaining a healthy bodyweight, exercising and eating a healthy balanced diet is important. There is no guarantee against cancer but there are things we can do to make us less likely to get it, and things that the government can do to help us make the right choices and protect future generations.”
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