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Cancer diagnosis now more common a milestone than marriage

More new cases of cancer each year than weddings in the UK
woman having chemotherapy

There are more new cases of cancer each year than weddings in the UK, according to a Macmillan Cancer Support report.

The C-Word: How we react to cancer today , includes analysis of data from multiple sources, including Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Findings include:

  • There are more than 70,000 more new cases of cancer each year in the UK than weddings.
  • Almost 50,000 more new cases of cancer each in year in England and Wales than women giving birth to their first child.
  • There are a similar number of undergraduate degrees awarded each year in the UK as new cases of cancer.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults by Macmillan in March is included in the report. It

There are more new cases of cancer each year than weddings in the UK, according to a Macmillan Cancer Support report.


Public fear of cancer can hamper patients' understanding of choices they have post-diagnosis Photo: iStock

The C-Word: How we react to cancer today, includes analysis of data from multiple sources, including Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Findings include:

  • There are more than 70,000 more new cases of cancer each year in the UK than weddings.
  • Almost 50,000 more new cases of cancer each in year in England and Wales than women giving birth to their first child.
  • There are a similar number of undergraduate degrees awarded each year in the UK as new cases of cancer.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults by Macmillan in March is included in the report. It shows the increasing number of diagnoses means cancer is the disease most commonly feared above all others (37%), ahead of Alzheimer’s (27%) or heart disease (4%).

For one in 10 people it ranks the highest life fear of all, above loss of a loved one, their own death or terrorism.

Barriers to support

These fears and perceptions are described as ‘unhelpful’ when attempting to support patients to understand their choices following a cancer diagnosis.

The report coincides with the charity's advertising campaign, called Life with Cancer, which reveals that while one in two people will get cancer at some point in their life more people are living longer after diagnosis.

Preparing patients, explaining what to expect both before and after treatment and being clear on the support available are all highlighted as key things healthcare professionals can do.

Fear of the unknown

Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Lynda Thomas said: ‘Being told you have cancer changes your life, and it can leave people feeling as if they’ve been thrust into the unknown, bewildered and unprepared.

‘From our experience, we believe living well with cancer begins at diagnosis. People should come away from those first appointments feeling informed about their choices and knowing what support is available.’


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