One in two men will develop cancer by 2027

As the number of men developing cancer is on the rise, UK health experts believe that by the year 2027 men will have a one in two chance of developing the disease.

The increase will change from the current 44 in 100 chance, to a 50 in 100 chance and is mostly because of the fact that people are generally living longer according to Cancer Research UK who teamed with Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London to offer forecasts for the future.

Projections were formulated after studying previous information available about cancer incidence and mortality rates, in addition to projected population data for the UK.

In 2010 it was calculated that 324,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK and this is expected to hit 416,000 by 2027. For men, the total is expected to reach over 221,000, up from 164,000 back in 2010.

The projections estimated that more than 194,000 women will be diagnosed with cancer in 2027, compared with 160,000 in 2010. Therefore, the predictions seem to be a similar pattern for women compared to men, with a lifetime risk which will increase from 40 to 44 out of 100 according to the researchers.

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Harpal Kumar says that ‘it’s only through research that we will be able to beat cancer’, further adding: “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.”

As mentioned previously, age is predicted to be the biggest risk factor for the disease and it is thought that the biggest increases in new cases will be seen in cancers of the bowel and prostate, as well as melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer and most often brought on because of ultraviolet light (radiation) from the sun or excessive sunbed use.

Dr Kumar says the figures offer an outlook into the future and what challenges health authorities may face. One such challenge is developing an efficient and effective method of screening men for prostate cancer.

Not every cancer within the prostate gland is aggressive or potentially life-threatening and some can live with this all their lives and experience no health problems. Unfortunately though, doctors do not have a reliable testing procedure in their possession that can identify ‘safe’ tumours that are ok to leave alone.

Alan White, chairman of the Men’s Health Forum and professor of men’s health at Leeds Metropolitan University, argues that another problem will be persuading men to attend screenings for prostate cancer should an effective test ever be developed. Prof White says that even though men have a higher chance of developing bowel cancer than women, a lot less men than women actually bother to go for screening for this cancer.

Prof White says: “It’s desperately important that men take up any opportunity to go for cancer screening that they can. Some men are fatalistic about cancer and screening. But screening does make a difference. If cancers are spotted earlier they are easier to treat. We also know that men who discuss screening with their doctor or their partner are more likely to take up the offer.”

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