According to Macmillan-funded research by King's College London, one in four people aged 65 and over will have had a cancer diagnosis in 2040. This is almost double the proportion in 2012 and four times for people aged 45 to 64.
Lung cancer prevalence in older women will see the biggest increase and will double from 2010 to 2040, while prevalence in older men is expected to decrease due to a dramatic decline in smoking among men in England since the 1970s.
The sharp rise cancer prevalence will likely be due to; the ageing population, increasing incidence and increasing cancer survival.
Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "The care of older cancer patients is the ticking time bomb for society. These stark predictions should act as a warning to the NHS and social care providers of the problems ahead if older cancer patients are not offered the best treatment and support.
"We have a moral duty to give people the best chance of beating cancer, regardless of their age. For cancer survival to improve, older people must be given the right treatment at the correct level of intensity, together with the practical support to enable them to take it up."
Macmillan, in partnership with Age UK and the Department of Health, has set up five pilots.
Cancer patients are facing barriers to getting the best care and treatment including; under treatment; a lack of practical support at home preventing going to hospital to get treatment; and poor management of non-cancer related health problems.
Professor Henrik Møller, one of the study authors at King's College London, said the research showed an increased demand upon health services in the coming decades.
The aim of the research has been to provide long term projections of cancer prevalence in the UK.
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