While this figure may seem concerning, part of the reason for growth is due to increased cancer survival rates. Currently, 1 in 22 Australians are living with or beyond cancer (in remission), however by 2040 this will have increased to 1 in 18 Australians.
A report done by the Cancer Council indicates that by 2040 an estimated 1.9 million people will have been diagnosed with cancer. Of these people, 47% will be women and 53% men and over half (58%) of these people will be aged over 70. The most common of these cancers being melanoma, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer making up over 1.2 million of the total estimated cases.
What does this mean for Australia?
This increase of cancer and people living beyond cancer will see a greater need for support services, particularly for the older generation. The Cancer Council report also highlights that survival rates decrease in lower socio-economic communities across Australia.
What can you do to lower your risk of cancer?
1 in 3 cancers are preventable which makes it all the more important to get regular check-ups, especially if there is a family history of cancer that are known to be hereditary. Prevention and early detection are two of the main reasons that the cancer survival rate is expected to increase by 2040.
The Cancer Council suggests a number of ways you can minimise your risk of cancer. These include:
- Quitting smoking
- Eating for your health
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Being SunSmart
- Limiting alcohol consumption
Another great way to be proactive is to get checked regularly. Both men and women should look out for:
- Lumps, sores or ulcers that don’t heal
- Coughs that don’t go away
- Weight loss that can’t be explained
- Blood in bowel movement or persistent change in toilet habits
- Abdominal pain or persistent bloating
- Moles that change shape, colour or size.
Men should also watch for any changes to their testicles and discuss with their doctors about when they should start getting prostate exams. Women however need to be more vigilant with any changes to their breasts such as lumps, thickening, unusual discharge or any unexplained changes in the nipples such as the shape, colour or any sudden pain. If you are over 40, BreastScreen Australia offers free mammograms and they recommend you get them done every two years. The Cancer Council also suggests that women should have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years. This test has since replaced the previously used pap smear test and still needs to be done whether or not a woman has had the vaccination.
Where to Get Further Advice
Despite the initial concern over the increase of people in Australia who will be living with cancer, this report has actually highlighted a number of ways in which we can help to prepare for this. Prevention and early detection of any symptoms can help to improve the survival rate considerably.
If you have concerns about symptoms you are experiencing, consider speaking to your GP for a referral to see our qualified Oncologist at Hunter Valley Oncology.