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'Half of men to get cancer by 2027'

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Half of all British men are likely to be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime by the year 2027, experts predict.

Men in the UK currently have a 44% chance of developing the disease.

Women’s risk is also expected to increase from 40% to 44% in the next 15 years.

The better news is that proportionally fewer people are likely to be dying of cancer thanks to improved methods of diagnosis and treatment.

Over the last 40 years, cancer survival has doubled, figures show.

The projections, from Cancer Research UK, are based on past incidence and death rates and assume a continuation of trends.

They do not take into account new forms of treatment, lifestyle and environmental changes that might alter future cancer rates.

Age is the biggest risk factor for cancer and the increase in incident rates largely reflect the fact that people are living longer, said the charity.

The cancers set to affect people most in the next 15 years are prostate, bowel and melanoma (skin).

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Dr Harpal Kumar said: “These figures provide a glimpse into the future. On the plus side, our life expectancy is increasing but this also means more of us are likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s only through research that we will be able to beat cancer. We need to do more work to understand what drives cancer and how we can prevent it, as well as developing new treatments to reduce the number of people who will die from it.

“Understanding the biology of cancer is rather like completing a complex jigsaw puzzle. Many pieces have already fallen into place but we need more research before we can complete the picture. And thanks to the generosity of the public, our world-class scientists are playing a leading role in beating this devastating disease.”

Data from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London and the Office for National Statistics were used to make the predictions.

Around 416,000 people in the UK are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2027, compared with 324,000 in 2010.

Between the same two years the number of diagnosed cases of bowel cancer is forecast to rise from 41,800 to more than 54,400, of prostate cancer from 41,000 to 57,000 and of malignant melanoma from 12,800 to 20,400.

Prostate cancer expert Professor Malcolm Mason, from the University of Cardiff, said: “Prostate cancer needs research. We have many questions and research is key to providing answers about the disease. As our population ages, growing numbers of men will be diagnosed with the disease.

“Over the last 40 years prostate cancer incidence rates in Great Britain have tripled, and three-quarters of cases are diagnosed in men aged over 65 years.”

The report was released before a new Cancer Research UK TV advertising campaign launching on Boxing Day that will highlight the need for more research.

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