A new study has indicated that the number of cancer survivors in the UK has hit two million – a record number and a massive increase on previous estimates.
Previously quoted figures put the number of people living with or after cancer at 1.2 million, but new research from King's College London's Thames Cancer Registry showed the true total was now two million.
However, health trusts' failure to provide resources for the long-term care of these patients is a "ticking time bomb", Macmillan Cancer Support, which commissioned the study, warned.
The charity has now called for better care to meet the long-term needs of those who have had cancer. It urged health trusts and local authorities to provide a "comprehensive package of care" for all survivors, including emotional, financial and practical support as well as hospital treatment.
People living with cancer find it far harder to continue working and to carry out simple activities like housework and meeting friends, Macmillan said. It warned that the number of survivors would grow "significantly" over the coming decade as cases of the disease rise and deaths fall.
Ciaran Devane, Macmillan Cancer Support's chief executive, said: "It is about time the NHS acknowledged that cancer is no longer necessarily a death sentence and recognised its long-term impact on people's lives."