The number of people diagnosed with cancer in the UK will rise to 500,000 by 2035.
More than half a million Britons a year will be diagnosed with cancer by 2035, making it hard for NHS services to cope with the extra demand for testing and treatment, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has warned.
The number of people across the UK found to have cancer every year is expected to rise from 352,000 to an estimated 514,000 in less than 20 years - more than 160,000 extra cases annually - according to research in the British Journal of Cancer
‘Cutting smoking rates and alcohol consumption, tackling the rising obesity epidemic by eating healthy and engaging in physical activity is key to avoiding more cancer cases. ’
The vast majority of the expected 162,000 additional cases - 141,000 - will be caused by the ageing and growing population. However, another 12,600 will be the result of a combination of lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol or poor diet, and also improved screening for the disease.
In 1993, 127,000 men and 128,000 women were diagnosed with the disease. By 2014, the numbers had risen to 173,000 and 179,000 respectively. This future trends analysis, based on examining cancer data going back to 1979, predicts that 244,000 women and more than 270,000 men will be diagnosed in 2035.
Those big rises mean there is an "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", CRUK said.
"The number of people getting cancer in the UK will incerease sharply in the next two decades. This is mostly the result of an ageing and growing population but, for women, lifestyle factors are playing an increasingly important role", said Dr Rebecca Smittenaar, the study's lead author and CRUK's statistics manager.
People's risk of developing cancer will also rise in actual terms, separate to the growing numbers diagnosed, due to increased life expectancy and population expansion.
Cancer incidence rates have risen for both sexes in an almost unbroken way since records began in 1979, though they have recently begun edging downwards for men. Men have always been more likely than women to be diagnosed.
In 1993, 783 for every 100,000 men aged 15 or over were diagnosed with cancer. That rose to 808 per 100,000 in 2014 and is predicted to increase again, albeit slightly, to 812 per 100,000 in 2035.
The number of women in that age group who developed cancer rose from 564 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 664 per 100,000 in 2014. It is due to hit 685 by 2035, according to the study.
CRUK last year revised its prediction for the number of people who would develop cancer at some point in their lives from one in three to one in two.
Sir Harpal Kumar, the charity's chief executive, said the expected increases in cancer cases were "shocking". However, four in 10 cancers could be prevented if people drank less, did not smoke, ate a healthy diet and took more exercise, he said.