More than 170,000 people who have cancer in the UK were diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s, according to a report by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Cancer: Now and Then, states that people with cancer are on average twice as likely to survive at least 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer than they were at the start of the 1970s.
'With so many people alive today who were diagnosed with cancer in the 1970s and 1980s, it’s clear that having cancer is no longer necessarily the death sentence it once was; that is a cause for celebration,’ said Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support.
‘But while it is not always life-ending, it is life-changing and we need to ensure that people who have had the disease or who are living with it have a good quality of life and tailored, appropriate support.’
However, despite the positive findings, the report raises concerns about the impact on quality of life cancer can have. It estimates that as many as 625,000 people in the UK are estimated to be facing poor health or disability after treatment for cancer, with 42,500 of those diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s, having to cope with problems linked to their condition. The long-term side effects can include chronic fatigue, incontinence and sexual difficulties.
‘We know that thousands of people are living with the consequences of yesterday’s treatments, illnesses such as heart disease or osteoporosis,’ added Ms Maher. ‘They may also be dealing with other issues that are a result of their cancer such as money worries if they are too ill to work. In the future we will have even more people living with cancer in the long-term. Our health service needs to be equipped to meet the increasing demand over the coming years.’