Scots cancer rates to ‘rise by third over 20 years’

The prognosis would put more pressure on the NHS. Picture: Tony Marsh
The prognosis would put more pressure on the NHS. Picture: Tony Marsh
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THE number of cases of cancer in Scotland will increase by 33 per cent by 2027 amid warnings of a looming crisis for the health service.

Pancreatic cancer cases are set to double in number in the next 20 years while kidney cancer rates are expected to soar by more than 70 per cent.

Lung cancer will be the most common cancer among Scots, with the number of new cases in women rising by 29 per cent and 12 per cent in men by 2027, the Cancer Incidence Projections for Scotland has revealed.

The stark report, published yesterday by ISD Scotland, compares projections for cases of cancer from 2023-2027 with actual figures from 2008-12.

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It found that the average number of new cases per year will increase from 30,500 cases to 40,000 cases in 20 years.

However separate statistics revealed there has been a 6.5 per cent increase in early diagnoses since 2010, caused by a rise in screening programmes and improved diagnostic techniques.

Experts have blamed the ageing population, as well as risk factors such as smoking, poor diet, alcohol and obesity for contributing to the rise.

Gregor McNie, senior public affairs manager for Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “These statistics show the growing challenges the National Health Service faces in treating cancer patients.

“Detecting cancers earlier increases treatment options and improves survival.”

Mr McNie said that four in 10 cancers could be prevented though changes to lifestyle such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and drinking less alcohol.

The rising figures could have serious implications for the NHS, warned Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP.

He said: “These are concerning figures showing a potential threefold increase in the number of people being diagnosed with cancer. It could have serious implications for many families, but also for our public services.

“The Scottish Government must set out what it is going to do to prevent and alleviate this potential crisis.”

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, called for greater preventative action to address lifestyle factors influencing cancer.

She said: “We need to improve our diet, our relationship with alcohol and tackle obesity. Scottish ministers need to go beyond modest marketing campaigns and really drive a culture change if we are to beat cancer.

“We need to look at how all major government decisions affect health inequality, and in tackling diet, alcohol and obesity, we should support more community-led efforts.”

The Scottish Government has pledged to have plans in place by early next year to tackle the long-term cancer threat.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Due to our aging population we know more people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. This is why it is vital that we continue to work closely with the cancer community to ensure we have robust plans in place to shape cancer care well into the future.

“These statistics just reinforce how important it is we get this plan right for the long term and avoid rushing to quick fixes which don’t embed the kind of lasting change we need to really meet the huge challenge our health service faces.”