By Paulette Flahavin
By 2027 some 50 per cent of British men will probably develop cancer at some point in their lives, cancer experts say.
Today in the UK men have a 44 per cent risk of being diagnosed with cancer.
The cancer incident rate for women is also expected to rise from the current 40 per cent to 44 per cent by 2027.
What's more positive is the news that a smaller percentage of cancer patients will die of the disease as a result of better diagnosis and treatment methods.
Statistics reveal that cancer survival rates have doubled in the last four decades.
Cancer Research UK are publishing the projected figures, basing them on historical cancer incident and death rates and working on the assumption that trends will continue.
What the projections do not consider are new treatments and environmental and lifestyle changes that could change cancer rates in the future.
The charity noted that as age is the most important cancer risk factor, the rise in risk percentages is mainly due to people living longer lives.
Prostate, bowel and skin (melanoma) cancers are the ones that will affect people the most in the coming 15 years.
"These figures provide a glimpse into the future. On the plus side, our life expectancy is increasing but this also means more of us are likely to be diagnosed with cancer," said Cancer Research UK's chief executive Dr Harpal Kumar.
"It's only through research that we will be able to beat cancer. We need to do more work to understand what drives cancer and how we can prevent it, as well as developing new treatments to reduce the number of people who will die from it."
Dr Kumar likened the scientific understanding of cancer to doing a jigsaw puzzle. While many pieces are now in place, more research is needed to finish the picture.
"And thanks to the generosity of the public, our world-class scientists are playing a leading role in beating this devastating disease," he said.
In making the cancer risk projections the charity used data from the Office for National Statistics and the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London.
By 2027 some 416,000 people in the UK are projected to be diagnosed with cancer. In 2010 the number of UK people with cancer totalled 324,000 people.
Looking at the projections for the three cancers expected to affect people the most, the numbers of diagnosed bowel cancer patients in 2010 was 41,800. The number is expected to increase to more than 54,400 in 2027. Prostate cancer patients are expected to go from 41,000 diagnosed in 2010 to 57,000 in 2027, while patients with malignant melanoma will rise from 12,800 to 20,400.
"Prostate cancer needs research. We have many questions and research is key to providing answers about the disease. As our population ages, growing numbers of men will be diagnosed with the disease," according to prostate cancer expert Professor Malcolm Mason from the University of Cardiff, who added:
"Over the last 40 years prostate cancer incidence rates in Great Britain have tripled, and three-quarters of cases are diagnosed in men aged over 65 years."
Cancer Research UK published their report ahead of a new TV ad campaign the charity plans to kick-off on Boxing Day to underscore the necessity for additional research.