Cancer Surge Threatens UK’s Health Services

It is estimated that over 2.5 million people will be living with cancer in the UK during 2015. This number, up 500,000 in the last five years, will create a “crisis of unmanageable proportions.”

According to Macmillan Cancer Support, a leading UK cancer charity, almost half a million more people have survived cancer and that will put an unbearable strain on resources.

“While it is great news that more people are surviving cancer or living longer with it, progress is a double-edged sword,” said Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan, to the BBC. “As numbers surge, the NHS will soon be unable to cope with the huge increase in demand for health services. As we are threatened by a cancer crisis of unmanageable proportions, all political parties must step up and make a real commitment to supporting people with cancer.”

Improvements in treatment and early detection have sent the rate of surviving cancer higher, but the aging of the population has also affected the number of people who have survived cancer. The rate of kidney, liver and skin cancer has also risen as the population has changed. According to, the number of people living with cancer will increase to four million by 2030.

A spokesperson for the NHS said, “It is hugely welcome news that over the last five years 500,000 more people are able to live with cancer – part of the fact that cancer survival rates are increasing from relatively poor performance by European standards to their highest ever level in England.”

According to the charity’s findings, the number of people over 65 living with cancer increased by 23 percent and 1.6 million people, of the 2.5 million total, were diagnosed with cancer over five years ago. Macmillan worries that the stress on the NHS will be strained by the numbers. The charity estimates that one in four of the current UK survivors already face poor health or disability during and after the treatments,

The charity wants political parties to commit to increasing the health resources for cancer survivors ahead of May’s General Election.

Khuram Aziz
Khurram Aziz is a freelance writer based out of London, England.