Cancer burden to continue rising says report

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer rates across Europe will continue to rise as the population steadily ages, according to an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report.

Around 3.2 million cancers were diagnosed across the continent during 2006, up from 2.9 million in 2004.

While screening programmes and lower smoking rates have helped to reduce some cancers, the increasing average age of Europeans was key to the growth, said the report.

"Cancer is a major cause of illness and premature death in the UK," said Ruth Yates, head of statistical information at Cancer Research UK.

"Because the risk of cancer increases with age the burden of cancer will grow with improved life expectancy in the UK population ? so experts believe the total number of cancer cases will increase.

"Cancer Research UK's Cancer 2020 campaign urges politicians responsible for the NHS to plan now for the future challenges facing cancer services.

"This is vital if we are to prepare for the future challenges of cancer as the number of patients and the cost of treating them will certainly rise in the next decade."

The IARC report highlighted anti-smoking programmes as a crucial area, with 334,800 people dying from lung cancer in the EU in 2006, mostly due to tobacco.

The report also called for increasing co-ordination of screening programmes and treatment across EU member states.

The report is published in the journal the Annals of Oncology.