Cancer Cases to Rise Significantly in the U.K. By 2040

Cancer is currently the second leading cause of death worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A new report shows cancer cases in the U.K. on a rising trajectory for the future.

Key takeaways:

In honor of World Cancer Day 2023 on Saturday, February 4, Cancer In The U.K. released a report to bring awareness to the rising disease cases.

Cancer in the U.K.’s projections show over 500,000 people in the U.K. can expect to have some form of cancer by the year 2040.

According to the new report, cancer is the leading cause of death in the U.K. and is ahead of dementia and heart disease. Although mortality rates have fallen by 19% since the 1970s, one in two British-born will have cancer in their life.

Cancer In The U.K. finds the cancer incidence rate fell by 12% during the COVID-19 pandemic. This phenomenon is mostly due to U.K. citizens not receiving cancer screenings for various forms of the disease during the height of the pandemic.

Screenings for cervical and breast cancer dropped during the 2020 year. However, screenings for bowel cancer increased due to a simpler way to discover the disease, fecal immunochemical testing (FIT). Individuals in the U.K. were able to use the test at home during the pandemic.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.K. In a response to the Cancer In The U.K. report, the CEO of Breast Cancer Now, Delyth Morgon, highlights the need for breast cancer screenings.

"These new estimates revealing the number of people diagnosed with cancer is set to rise by a third by 2040, is cause for alarm; and in turn, suggests an estimated 1.2 million new breast cancer cases," Morgon said.

"Significant decline in uptake of breast screening over the last decade is also cause for deep concern, with screening being the most effective tool for diagnosing breast cancer early when treatment is most likely to be successful."

What is leading to the rise in cancer?

Cancer In The U.K. finds smoking and obesity as the two leading causes of cancer. Despite smoking reaching its lowest percentage of U.K. adults at 14%, it is still responsible for 55,000 cancer cases each year.

Data shows England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland are not on track for reaching the goal of 5% average adult smoking prevalence for the foreseeable future.

While smoking rates are reducing, cases of obesity continue to grow. Obesity is responsible for 23,000 cases of cancer per year in the U.K. New trends show more individuals will be obese than living at a healthy weight by the year 2040.

Cancer in the U.S.

According to the CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death behind heart disease. In 2019, 1,752,735 new cancer cases were reported, and 599,589 people died of various forms of the disease.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. behind skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimated 290,560 breast cancer cases in 2022. Prostate and lung cancer are the next most common forms of the disease in the U.S.

Preventing cancer

Cancer In The U.K. states four in 10 cancer cases can be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices. The CDC recommends tobacco avoidance, skin protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, limited alcohol consumption, a healthy weight, and testing for hepatitis C.

With skin cancer being the most common form of the disease in the U.S., it is important to take protective septs when outdoors. Make a point to stay in the shade, apply sunscreen, and wear sunglasses for preventive measures.

The CDC says cigarette smoking is linked to nearly 90% of lung cancer deaths. Also, the CDC emphasizes tobacco can cause cancer anywhere on the body.

Obesity has been linked to 13 different forms of cancer. Healthy eating habits featuring lean meats, low-fat calcium-rich foods, and healthy servings of fruits and vegetables over comfort-food options can help in combination with physical activity. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week for adults and 60 minutes of play per day for children.


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