The NSW health system needs to prepare for the burden of increased cancer prevalence, with new research from Cancer Council NSW predicting dramatic increases in those living with breast and prostate cancer by 2017.
The new studies from Cancer Council NSW have found that prostate cancer prevalence in NSW is estimated to rise by up to 73 per cent from between 2007 and 2017, with up to 66,160 men expected to be living with the disease at one time.
Further, the number of women in NSW living with a breast cancer diagnosis is projected to increase by 40 per cent between 2007 and 2017, with 68,620 women in NSW expected to be living with breast cancer at this time.
The substantial increase in both prostate and breast cancer can be attributed to an increase in incidence rates and survivorship of the disease, as well as an ageing population.
Cancer prevalence is difficult to determine, and traditional cancer surveillance measures of incidence and mortality – which cover only the rates of diagnosis and death – are insufficient measures of the true burden that these cancers place on the population and on the state’s health system.
This new data released from Cancer Council NSW will act to fill a significant gap in projected cancer prevalence data for the coming years, and in turn assess the impact that this will have on the current and future needs of the health service.
Associate Professor David Smith, Research Fellow at Cancer Council NSW, said:
“The number of men living with prostate cancer, and women living with breast cancer, is expected to increase dramatically in the next decade in NSW, representing a significant challenge to the health system.
“For example, our studies found that of the 68, 620 projected breast cancer survivors, 46.5 per cent will require continued monitoring (31,974) and 43.5 per cent will be long-term survivors (29,785). About 9 per cent will require active treatment and one per cent will need end of life care due to breast cancer.”
Cancer Council NSW has worked to fill a significant knowledge gap regarding the prediction of cancer prevalence in the coming years, and is in turn calling on the NSW government to use this to implement careful planning and development of a healthcare system able to respond to this heightened demand.
“While it is very encouraging to see prolonged life-expectancy for cancer patients and survivors, we urge the NSW government to take this new data seriously.
“We want to see a healthcare system taking steps to combat this increased demand through an improved oncology workforce, increased investment in the infrastructure required to deliver cancer care and additional funding towards the cost of cancer care,” continued A/Prof. Smith.
After common skin cancers, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and breast cancer the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in NSW. These cancers have been selected to best represent the overall cancer burden in NSW.
With continued funding, Cancer Council NSW will be able to conduct further research into the predicted prevalence of a wider range of less common cancers, all of which present their own challenges to the health system.
Source: Cancer Council NSW