ONE in every two men in East Anglia will develop cancer by 2027, shocking new figures have revealed.

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Case Study

20-YEAR-OLD Lee Willcox from Suffolk knows first hand the importance of research.

The University of Suffolk student was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2009 at the age of 17 after developing pains in his back.

Lee, then a professional footballer with Brantham Athletic, had a scan which showed he had cancer in his testicle which had spread to his lung, liver and lymph nodes. He was given a 50% chance of survival.

From December 2009 to March 2010, Lee, who lives Birchfield Drive, Ipswich, had intensive chemotherapy to shrink the tumours, followed by two major operations to remove the tumours and his right testicle. His weight dropped from 14 stone to 9 stone.

He said: “My mum and dad were in bits when I was diagnosed with cancer.

“But thanks to research, I am still here. I was lucky I was young and fit enough to cope with the intensive chemotherapy, and I am so grateful for the treatment that saved my life. I want to do all I can to encourage people to get behind Cancer Research UK and help save more lives.”

Since his treatment he has begun a course in nutrition and human health at Suffolk University and is back playing football - this time for Ipswich Wanderers.

Statistics by Cancer Research UK reveal that within 15 years, 50 men out of every 100 are likely to be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 44 out of every 100 in 2010.

Women’s lifetime cancer risk is also increasing and is predicted to rise from 40 to 44 out of every 100 women by 2027.

The steep rise in the disease is down to the increasing aging population and the fact that people are living longer.

But health experts are keen to reassure that survival rates have doubled in the past 40 forty years.

Gareth Jones, director of the Anglia Cancer Network, said: “Cancer used to be known as a death sentence, but more and more people are living with or beyond cancer.

“For example, in East Anglia more than 80% of women diagnosed with cancer have a five year survival rate.”

He added: “Cancer predominantly is a disease of old age.

“With an aging population, it is inevitable that more and more people are going to get cancer. About 50% of all cancer are preventable by living a healthy lifestyle.

“The reason why more men seem to get the disease is due to a number of factors; lifestyle, genetics, types of cancer.”

Cancer Research UK reveal that every year around 15,000 men and 14,300 women are diagnosed in East Anglia.

Mr Jones said that in the future cancer care will be largely provided in the community which will ease the strain on hospital services.

“In the future care will be tailored around the patient’s needs. We are currently working on a programme to develop community services.”

Dr Alan Lamont, medical director at the Essex Cancer Research, said: “Whilst these statistics may look alarming, the death rate is falling. “Nowadays the cancer death rate is half of the number of diagnoses.

“We need to develop a smooth and efficient diagnostic system to deal with the levels of patients in the future. GPs need the relevant resources to remove some of the burden from hospitals.”

The cancers set to see the biggest increases in incidence over the next 15 years include prostate, bowel and melanoma, according to Cancer Research UK.

There are, however, significant advancements being made into treating bowel cancer. A 16-year Cancer Research UK trial showed how a one-off flexi-scope test is expected to reduce the number of deaths from the disease by almost half (43%) and the number of new cases by a third in those who take up the screening tests.

There are also a number of new treatments for advanced melanoma, which are bringing hope to patients.

Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswomen for East Anglia, said: “Research is driving up survival rates, but the new figures show that significant challenges lie ahead.

“We are entering a golden age of cancer research and every pound we raise takes us a step closer to achieving our goal to beat this disease.”

The charity spent £42 million in the region last year on scientific and clinical research.

A new campaign, with a TV advert, is being launched on Boxing Day.

Dr Daniel Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, added: “Men are bad at coming forward or visiting their doctor when they show signs and symptoms of being unwell.

“This is an excellent initiative by Cancer Research UK to support men in recognising the early signs of cancer, which has the potential to save many lives.”

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