By the end of 2016, the NHS could be ‘pushed to its limit’ by the rising numbers of cancer patients, Macmillan Cancer Support has warned.

The rise in life expectancy means that many more adults are living to an age when they are at a greater risk of the illness. There are increased concerns that the NHS will find difficulty in treating such high numbers and that ‘cracks in the NHS are already beginning to show’. It has been stated that with the ageing population and ongoing NHS cutbacks, this could stretch cancer care to breaking point.

Unfortunately, the Macmillan charity revealed that the number of English NHS trusts missing the target for access to cancer treatment waiting times had doubled in 2014. It was suggested that this could be linked to pressure in part due to funding cutbacks. 

Research by the charity shows that by 2016, a total of 361,000 people in Britain will be diagnosed with cancer each year. This is 100,000 more than the 263,000 in 1996. There is now a growing financial burden as a result of this illness and it was reported only yesterday that the Government may have to stop funding some life-extending drugs.

Charities are concerned that vital treatments for breast and prostate cancer will no longer be available through the Cancer Drugs Fund which gives patients in England access to effective treatments deemed too expensive for hospitals to fund. More than 40 drugs, around half the total, will be reviewed in mid-December as new rules on cost-effectiveness are introduced by NHS England.