Around 13,000 cancer deaths could be prevented this year in the UK alone if the government were to meet the World Health Organisation's '25% by 2025' target of reducing premature deaths form non-communicable diseases. 

In the UK, around 157,000 people die of cancer every year. Although the mortality rate is predicted to continue declining, due to a growing and ageing population the number of deaths is expected to rise to around 182,000 deaths by 2025.

Experts believe that raising awareness of the potential for reducing the risk of cancer is crucial to help curb this expected increase.

In a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by WCRF, 32% of more than 2,000 adults taking part were found to believe that getting cancer is largely down to fate, while 28% thought that, apart from not smoking, little can be done to prevent the disease.

"These results are a real concern because they show that a significant proportion of people don’t realise that there’s a lot they can do to reduce their risk of cancer," said Kate Allen, Executive Director of Science and Public Affairs at WCRF. 

"By eating healthily, being physically active and keeping to a healthy weight, we estimate that about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented," she noted.

Union for International Cancer Control and WCRF are urging both the public and government to "speak out with one voice to dispel damaging myths and misconceptions on cancer".

Cancer capacity warning

Meanwhile, a new report released today – The Cancer Capacity Challenge – claims there is "a growing threat to patient care" with the increasing demand for chemotherapy.

According to the report, more patients than ever are living longer with cancer because of improved diagnosis and better treatment options, which has led to an increase in demand for chemotherapy services at a time when the NHS has been tasked with generating huge efficiency savings.

It found that 84% of oncology pharmacists and 71% of oncology specialist nurses are worried that a lack in capacity to deliver cancer care is having an effect on patient care. 

And 76% of nurses and 68% of pharmacists believe that failing to address capacity issues could leave patients requiring vital cancer services waiting longer.

“The development and success of innovative cancer treatments mean that people are living with cancer for much longer [but] this success has caused its own challenges and is placing huge pressure on the NHS at a time when it’s seeking to reduce, rather than increase, spending,” commented Dr Mark Verrill, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

“This means that the need to utilise existing technologies and embrace new ones across the entire NHS is essential for improving patient care as well as reducing the costs to make space for the next generation of treatments,” he stressed.