Breast cancer cells
Macmillan says that the number of people in the UK living with cancer will balloon to 2.5 million in 2015, and the NHS will not be able to copeWellcome Trust

The number of people living with cancer in the UK will rise to a record high of 2.5 million in 2015 and the NHS is facing a "cancer crisis of unmanageable proportions", according to leading charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity has released new statistics showing that there has been a dramatic increase in people who are living with cancer, due to medical improvements in survival and detection.

In the last five years, the number of over-65s living with cancer increased by almost a quarter (23%) and 1.6 million of the 2.5 million people living with cancer were diagnosed at least five years ago.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 80% of people with breast, prostate or skin cancer now live for five years after diagnosis, while 90% of patients with testicular cancer now survive for at least five years.

However the charity fears that patients who are living with cancer face poor health, side effects and even disability after having cancer treatments, which will put stress on the NHS.

"While it is great news that more people are surviving cancer or living longer with it, progress is a double-edged sword," said Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support.

"As numbers surge, the NHS will soon be unable to cope with the huge increase in demand for health services and the support that organisations like Macmillan provide will become even more urgent and important."

Macmillan's warning is meant to be a call to action to the political parties in the UK, as the charity says that currently tens of thousands of UK cancer patients are diagnosed too late and shown a lack of compassion.

The charity also feels that cancer patients are denied a 'good' death, ie the right to free end-of-life social care and the right to spend their final weeks in a place of their choice.

"As we are threatened by a cancer crisis of unmanageable proportions, all political parties must step up and make a real commitment to supporting people with cancer," Thomas stressed.

"At this point it is no longer enough to just pay lip service to the issue. Ahead of the next general election all political parties must prioritise cancer care in their upcoming manifestos.

"It is essential that every one of those 2.5 million people receives the highest quality care and support and gets the best chance they possibly can of surviving cancer."