Half of us will suffer with cancer by 2045 as rates set to double
The number of cases of cancer could double to 43,000 a year by 2045 if current rates of the disease continue, a new report warns today.
An increase in the population and the jump in the number of elderly people over the next 30 years are the main reasons behind the projected rise, the National Cancer Registry warns.
There is some hope that growth may be kept at a more "modest" 50pc if recent trends, including declines in some cancers, are maintained.
There has been a fall in prostate cancer. A recent downward trend in the incidence of breast and cervical cancer has also been seen, which is likely to be due in part to screening programmes BreastCheck and CervicalCheck.
"There is no doubt that population growth and ageing will result in substantial increases in numbers of cancers diagnosed in Ireland over the coming decades, with resultant increases in the demands on cancer healthcare services," said Professor Kerri Clough-Gorr, director of the National Cancer Registry.
But there are some grounds for optimism. Recent trends in age-standardised cancer incidence rates, which reflect the risk of an individual being diagnosed with cancer, appear to show a levelling-off or even a decline for a range of cancers.
"If these recent trends continue, increases in numbers of cancers diagnosed may prove to be substantially smaller, but they are still likely to amount to at least a 50pc increase by 2045.
"But even that more limited increase in projected numbers of cancers will depend on sustained and, where possible, expanded public health and cancer prevention interventions aimed at reducing the risk of cancer diagnosis at the individual and population level."
Lung cancer could rise 132pc to 5,760 cases, and female breast cancer may increase by 50pc to 4,650 cases.
Colon cancer could go up by 123pc with 4,000 and no changes in the number of prostate cancer cases.
Commenting on the report Averil Power, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society, warned: "We are facing a future where one in two of us will get cancer. Although this fact is frightening, we have been given an opportunity to plan and invest in cancer services so that people are diagnosed early, treated quickly and know how to reduce their risk of getting cancer.
"Our existing cancer services are buckling under current pressure, the Government needs to make investment now to meet the huge surge in demand of the future," she said.
"The report shows that demand for surgery will increase by almost 8,000 patients a year, demand for radiotherapy will increase by 5,500 patients a year and demand for chemotherapy will increase by 4,500 patients a year.
"We already have a situation where the surgical and radiotherapy interim targets in the National Cancer Strategy are not being met.
"We also need to invest in our diagnostic services to catch cancer earlier when it is more treatable. However, we are already in a situation where the system is unable to cope with the current demand.
"As well as investment in cancer services, we need to build on our health successes and redouble our efforts in health promotion and cancer prevention."