One in two people will now will develop cancer at some stage in their lives - up from the previous figure of one in three - a new report warns.
Cancer Research UK, who released the figures, say the UK is facing a "crisis" if it does not plan ahead.
Age is the biggest risk factor for disease but other lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, diet, tanning and sunburn and lack of exercise contribute.
The charity called for the urgent bolstering of cancer services so they can cope with a growing and ageing population as well as the looming demands for better diagnostics, treatments and earlier diagnosis.
Survival rates in the UK have doubled in the last 40 years and around half of patients now survive the disease for more than 10 years.
Just over a quarter of all deaths are caused by cancer, so while one in two people will develop cancer at some point, it is still believed that around one in four people will die from cancer.
But as more people benefit from improved healthcare and longer life expectancy, the number of cancer cases is expected to rise.
The new statistics come after it was revealed previous figures may have underestimated the risk.
Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "We're living longer and that means we're more likely to develop a range of age-related health issues.
"We need to plan ahead to make sure the NHS is fit to cope. If the NHS doesn't act and invest now, we will face a crisis in the future - with outcomes from cancer going backwards."
"We also need to ensure the health service is adequately funded if we're to deal effectively with the growing burden of cancer and offer all patients the best chance of long term survival."
There are now more than 200 different types of cancer, which are all quite different.
Asked about how near a cure for cancer is, Mr Kumar said: "There will never be one single magic bullet that treats cures all cancers. But already we're able to cure a number of cancers now.
"The single biggest thing that affects whether a patient is cured is whether their disease is caught early enough."