One in two men will develop cancer

One in two men will develop cancer

New figures for the UK predict a man's risk of developing cancer during his lifetime will rise to one in two by 2027, largely because more people are living longer.

The figures, released by Cancer Research UK on Wednesday, show that in the next 15 years, 50 men out of every 100 in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives, compared with 44 out of 100 in 2010.

They also show the risk for women developing cancer will rise from 40 to 44 out of every 100 over the same period.

The backdrop to these new figures is age: the biggest risk factor for cancer. Living longer means a higher risk of developing cancer. And in the UK, as in other developed nations, more people are reaching an age where they are more likely to develop cancer.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, says in a statement that their figures are a "glimpse into the future".

"On the plus side our life expectancy is increasing but this also means more of us are likely to be diagnosed with cancer," he says.

But there is also another backdrop: thanks to research, cancer diagnosis and treatment is improving all the time, so while the risk of developing cancer is going up, so is the chance of surviving it.

Experts say prostate cancer, bowel cancer and melanoma are among those most likely to rise in the next 15 years.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer remains a huge challenge: cases are growing and there is no reliable way to identify the ones that are life-threatening.

"Prostate cancer needs research," says Professor Malcolm Mason, prostate cancer expert at Cancer Research UK.

Mason says there are many questions that research still needs to answer. As the population ages, more and more men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"Over the last 40 years prostate cancer incidence rates in Great Britain have tripled, and three-quarters of cases are diagnosed in men aged over 65 years," says Mason.

However, there are some glimmers of hope, such as a paper published recently in Molecular Cancer Research where scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Florida report finding an enzyme called PRSS3, or mesotrypsin, that may help drive aggressive prostate cancer. They believe the discovery could lead to a test and better treatment.

Another promising area of research is that being carried out by Cancer Research UK scientists. They are studying a protein called microseminoprotein-beta (MSMB) that may help identify men at greater risk for prostate cancer. They suggest this could be a more accurate marker than the one currently used in screening tests, the prostate specific antigen (PSA).

For instance, in a paper published in 2010 in the journal PLoS ONE, Cancer Research UK scientists conclude that "urinary MSMB was better than urinary PSA at differentiating men with prostate cancer at all Gleason grades."

Mason says it's men at higher risk for prostate cancer who are likely to benefit most from screening, and it might be better to target those men that to try and screen all men.

However, it is "only through continued research that we'll be able to offer improved tests to reduce the number of men who die from the disease," he adds.

Bowel Cancer

Research into bowel cancer has already improved diagnosis and prevention. Researchers have shown how a one-off flexi-scope (single flexible sigmoidoscopy) test could reduce new cases and deaths from bowel cancer in those who take it up.

For example, one study published in 2011 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, shows how a single flexible sigmoidoscopy screening reduced bowel cancer incidence and deaths.

In that study, disease incidence was lowered by 18% and deaths by 22%. Among screened patients, incidence was reduced by 31%, and by 46% for advanced cases. And deaths in screened participants were reduced by 38% compared to controls.

Cancer Research UK also ran a 16-year trial that showed deaths from bowel cancer fell by 43% and cases by a third, in participants who had just one flexi-scope test.

"Our research showed for the first time that we could dramatically reduce the incidence of bowel cancer, and the number of people dying from the disease, by using this one-off test," says Professor Wendy Atkin, Cancer Research UK's bowel cancer screening expert who led the research.

Atkin describes their work as a "fantastic example" of the benefits research brings; "there is no other way we would be able to develop new treatments, know whether a new treatment is better or worse and know who should receive it," she adds.


Researchers by Cancer Research UK and others around the world has led to promising new treatments for advance melanoma, bringing hope to patients.

However, it is also essential that efforts to prevent the disease continue.

Most cases of melanoma are due to over-exposure to the sun's UV rays, and sunbeds. One study published recently shows how sun damage causes newly discovered melanoma-driving genetic changes.

Other areas where research is making inroads, is finding out how melanoma cells circumvent the immune system, and also fighting the cancer's resistance to chemotherapy.

Public Generosity

"It's only through research that we will be able to beat cancer. 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," urges Kumar.

"Understanding the biology of cancer is rather like completing a complex jigsaw puzzle. Many pieces have already fallen into place but we need more research before we can complete the picture. And thanks to the generosity of the public, our world class scientists are playing a leading role in beating this devastating disease," he adds.

Cancer Research UK has released the figures ahead of a UK television advertising campaign that launches on Boxing Day whose message is cancer will only be defeated through research.

UK charities are facing tough times. A recent report compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations finds that charity giving in the UK fell by 20% in real terms in 2011-2012.

CU Angio - for accurate and painless prostate cancer diagnosis (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease