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Thousands under age 45 living with breast, prostate, colorectal or lung cancer

Research released today reveals that there are 80,000 people in the UK living with either breast, prostate, colorectal or lung cancer who were diagnosed under age of 45.

They were diagnosed before the age of 45, and over a third of those were diagnosed more than 10 years ago and are still living today, according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support and Public Health England's National Cancer Intelligence Network.

The charity was “particularly shocked” by the numbers diagnosed and still living with prostate, colorectal and lung cancer from this young age, as these cancers are traditionally associated with old-age. 

Almost 10,000 people are living with colorectal cancer who were diagnosed before 45, with more than 600 of these diagnosed before the age of 25. Similarly 550 men living with prostate cancer in the UK and 2,000 people with lung cancer were diagnosed before the age of 45, the research suggests. 

In light of this research, Juliet Bouverie, director of services and influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Sadly the NHS isn't set up to support the individual, complex and long-term needs people may face when treatment finishes. People are usually left to cope alone apart from the occasional follow-up appointment to check that the tumour hasn't come back.   

“Macmillan is urgently calling on the new government to commit to ensuring that every person with cancer receives an assessment of their emotional, physical, spiritual and social needs and a personalised 'Recovery Package' of care based on their needs when treatment ends.”

For people of working age this package could include guidance on keeping active as part of a healthy lifestyle, information on how to manage the physical consequences of treatment as well as how to access financial support and employment advice, Bouverie said. 

“Only in this way will the NHS be able to support a rapidly growing number of cancer survivors with the long-term impact of cancer and give them a decent quality of life in the years after their treatment ends.”