As academics point out today, the media is more likely to report on cancer if young people are affected, even though three-quarters of cases involve those over the age of 60.
This is partly because something that is out of the ordinary is more likely to be ‘news’ to readers, but also because the prospect of a life being cut short prematurely has a greater emotional impact than a person who has had their ‘three score years and ten’ facing the same fate.
However, most people in Scotland can now expect to live well into their 70s or early 80s – despite pockets of deprivation where the average person has a life expectancy in the mid-50s.
Vast improvements in the treatment of cancer mean that someone who gets the disease in their 60s or 70s could still be able to enjoy life for years – if they are diagnosed quickly enough.
So, for people in that age-group, it is important to make sure you know the symptoms and don’t dismiss them as simply a sign of ageing as Bill Turnbull, the former BBC Breakfaster presenter, did, only to discover he had prostate cancer after it had spread to other parts of his body.