Cancer cases among pensioners 'set to treble' by 2040

Researchers are warning that the number of pensioners with cancer will treble by 2040.

Prostate cancer cells
Prostate cancer cells Credit: .

The study, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support shows that:

  • In three decades' time, 4.1 million over-65s will be living with the disease
  • That compares with 1.3 million in 2010
  • Nearly one in four older people will receive a cancer diagnosis in 2040

The rise in cases could be down to a number of reasons, including an ageing population, increased incidence of cancer and increasing cancer survival rates.

Research was carried out at King's College London
Research was carried out at King's College London Credit: Reuters

The aim of this research is to provide long-term projections of cancer prevalence in the UK. The research shows that large increases can be expected in the oldest age groups in the coming decades and, with this, an increased demand upon health services.

– Professor Henrik Moller, study author

Macmillan Cancer Support is warning that the care of older cancer patients is the "ticking time-bomb" for society.

These stark predictions should act as a warning to the NHS and social care providers of the problems ahead if older cancer patients are not offered the best treatment and support. We have a moral duty to give people the best chance of beating cancer, regardless of their age. For cancer survival to improve, older people must be given the right treatment at the correct level of intensity, together with the practical support to enable them to take it up. The barriers to older people getting treatment must be tackled. If we don't get this right now, many older people will be dying unnecessarily from cancer in the future.

– Ciaran Devane, Chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support