The NHS needs to recognise cancer's long-term impact on people's lives, to plan better services and to develop more personalised care, says a leading charity.
'We need services which keep people well and at home, not services which sort the problem when people arrive in A&E," according to Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Mr Devane was commenting on a new study launched by the charity which shows that 42% of people who die in the UK will have had a cancer diagnosis, and for 64% of them it is cancer which will cause their death.
The number of people living with cancer increased 35% in the UK during 1998-2008, rising from 1.5 million to 2 million, because more people are getting cancer but also, as treatment improves, people are surviving longer with the disease.
But the study, from Macmillan Cancer Support, shows that many cancer patients are suffering ongoing, long-term health problems. For example, among colorectal cancer patients who are still alive five to seven years after their diagnosis, 64% will have an ongoing health problem, 22% will have advanced cancers - including secondary cancer, metastatic cancer and secondary primary tumours, and 42% will be living with ongoing health problems such as cardiovascular and intestinal illnesses.
In contrast, just 36% will not have any ongoing health problems related to their cancer treatment, says the study.
These new data show, in more detail than ever before, that cancer patients are experiencing issues which require support several years after initial diagnosis and treatment, comments Mr Devane.
"There are currently two million people living with cancer in the UK and that number is doubling to four million over the next 20 years. Yet no-one thinks the country can afford to double its spending on cancer. We've therefore got to become twice as effective in how we spend that money," he said.
"We have a massive challenge ahead if we are to keep up with the relentless toll cancer takes on people's health, and the NHS must rise to it," he added.