Half a million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the UK by 2035 if current trends continue, a Cancer Research UK study published in the British Journal of Cancer has found.
More than 352,000 people are currently diagnosed with cancer each year in the county, but researchers are predicting an extra 150,000 annual cases in 20 years' time.
Nearly 244,000 cases of cancer will be diagnosed in women and more than 270,000 in men - up from around 173,000 and around 179,000, respectively, according to the study, which also forecasts that breast and prostate cancers will be the most cancers in women and men respectively in 2035.
Cancer Research UK says the research highlights the "urgent need to plan for the future of NHS cancer services which are already stretched to the limit as they struggle to cope with a growing and ageing population".
"A radically upgraded prevention effort will therefore be critical in reducing the impact of the disease in the coming decades," it said, noting that "four in 10 cancers in the UK could be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle including avoiding smoking, drinking less alcohol and keeping a healthy weight".
Recent research found that 75 percent of people are unaware that there's a link between obesity and cancer, when it's actually the second biggest preventable cause of the disease. The charity's survey also showed that 78 percent of those asked didn't know obesity is linked specifically to ovarian cancer, while 69 percent weren't aware of the link with breast cancer and 53 percent pancreatic cancer.
"It is vital that people know how to reduce their own risk of cancer as much as possible," said Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician. "But in addition the National Health Service needs to be planning now for the increased demands for the diagnosis, treatment and care for people with cancer".
"We have a serious shortage of specialists in important fields such as radiology, endoscopy and oncology. It's vital that the necessary staff and resources are available to ensure a high standard of care for patients across the UK."