Yesterday a report by the Macmillan Cancer Relief Fund predicted that half the population will face the risk of cancer by the year 2018, with the number of people affected rising 70 per cent.
But the report has caused a row with two other major cancer charities, the Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, who said that Macmillan had based their study on a worse-case scenario and that cancer cases were likely to fall with a decline in smoking and improvements in diet.
A spokeswoman for Macmillan said yesterday they were standing by their findings, carried out by Dr Tom Davies and Diane Stockton of Cambridge University, which said that while today 640 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer every day, by the year 2018 that daily total will be well over 1,000. The change, the researchers, said is due to the ageing population, improved treatments which mean that more people will be living with cancer, and rises in certain types of cancer. Their main findings were that the risk of developing prostate cancer will triple, lung cancer will drop sharply in men but double in women, and breast cancer will continue to rise.
Macmillan admit that their study is based on current trends, but the CRC and the ICRF yesterday issued a joint statement calling for the figures to be revised or withdrawn. The CRC said that it did not take account of the difficulty of predicting 21 years ahead - particularly the impact of legislation from five government terms of office. Nor did it take into account the introduction of screening programmes which catch cancer earlier.
Dr Lesley Walker of the charity said that the outlook was all now "very different" because of recent developments, such as the US tobacco companies' admission that their product was addictive, with possible further moves to regulate nicotine and the Government's plans to ban tobacco advertising.
But despite medical advances, all the charities say that lifestyle changes are the most important way of avoiding cancer, whether quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet or examining our breasts for lumpsnReuse content