World Cancer Day: Deaths caused by disease fall but number of cases rise

The reduction is down to improvements in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer

Cancer death rates in the UK have fallen by almost 10 per cent in the last decade, although the number of cases is still going up, new figures show.

Analysis by Cancer Research UK found that 284 out of every 100,000 people in the UK died from cancer in 2013 (around 162,000 people), down from 312 in every 100,000 a decade ago.

The slump is largely due to improvements in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

A breakdown of the sexes shows men's death rates have fallen by 12 per cent over the period, while the drop among women is 8 per cent.

This equates to around 85,000 men and 77,000 women dying from cancer each year in the UK.

Cancers of the lung, bowel, breast and prostate account for almost half of all cancer deaths in the UK. These four cancers saw an 11 per cent drop in death rates for the period studied.

But some cancers - such as liver and pancreatic - have seen a rise in the rates of people dying, by 60 per cent over the last 10 years for liver cancer and by 8 per cent for pancreatic cancer.

Experts have predicted that, mostly due to the fact people are living longer, one in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

However, some cases could be prevented, with at least a third of cancer cases each year in the UK linked to unhealthy lifestyles, obesity, smoking and diet.

Figures from Cancer Research UK also show the total number of cancer cases is still going up.

Almost 346,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK in 2012, up from 282,000 in 2002 and 249,000 in 1992.

Around 162,000 people died from cancer in the UK in 2012, up from just over 155,000 in 2002, but a very similar figure to 1992.

Around 80 per cent of cancer deaths occur in people aged 65 and over, and more than half occur in those aged 75 and older.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Today on World Cancer Day it's important to remember that even though the death rates are falling, the overall number of people dying from cancer is expected to increase. This is because the population is growing and more of us are living longer.

"Too many people are still being diagnosed with and dying from cancer, not just here in the UK but around the world.

"We're increasing our efforts into key areas of research such as how to achieve earlier diagnosis, and how best to manage cancers which are currently hard to treat."

The figures come as a poll from the World Cancer Research Fund found that 18 to 24-year-olds were more aware of cancer risks than over-55s.

Younger people knew more about the risks of being overweight, drinking alcohol, eating a poor diet and not being physically active.

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: "Prevention is key. It's good to see growing awareness in some age groups of the benefits of being a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and limiting how much alcohol we drink - and it's never too late to kick start a healthier lifestyle."

In Manchester, the University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) NHS Foundation Trust, home of the North West Lung Centre, has announced plans to introduce more rapid testing for lung cancer on the NHS.

Suspected lung cancer sufferers in Manchester will get a diagnosis in just seven days, with the aim of starting treatment within 14 days of referral by a GP or other health professional.

Lung cancer currently has poor rates of survival, with just 30 per cent of people alive one year after diagnosis and 10 per cent living for five years or more.

Dr Matthew Evison from UHSM said: “We will aim to see people the day after they have been referred by their GP so we can fast-track them through the diagnostic process, concentrating the required tests into an intense 36-hour period.

"Our approach will enable rapid investigation and diagnosis so we know exactly what kind of lung cancer, and its stage, within seven days. Quick diagnosis means quick treatment and we'll aim to begin treating all these patients within 14 days."

Press Association 

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