Oncology Central

Could we eliminate cancer before late old age by 2050?

January 2015 saw the release of a new University College London (UCL; London, UK) School of Pharmacy report titled ‘Overcoming Cancer in the 21st Century’ [1], which claims that “most cancer deaths before late old age could be eliminated by 2050″. The report, which was authored by Jennifer Gill (UCL School of Pharmacy), Richard Sullivan (King’s College London) and David Taylor (UCL School of Pharmacy), indicates that with continued improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment this target is “a perfectly reasonable estimate.” Taylor and Gill recently spoke exclusively to Oncology Central, expanding on their report and the evidence behind these conclusions.

Over the past 3 years, Jennifer Gill and David Taylor have worked closely together on projects focused on aging, pain, universal healthcare, off-label use of medicines and most recently how pharmacists can expand their role within healthcare systems.

Their latest work aimed to evaluate the current status of cancer in the UK, exploring how our understanding of the disease has exponentially increased in recent decades, and to project what may happen in the next 35 years in terms of cancer incidence and mortality rates. They also wanted to establish what needs to be actioned or improved in order to achieve the overarching goal of eliminating cancer before late old age.

The research used a range of sources, including Cancer Research UK statistics for age-standardized death rates from 1970 onwards and associated diagrams. Taylor explained: “For under forties and under twenties, the line [death rates]has been going straight down since 1970. For the other age groups, the line curves down at around 1990 and for the over eighties it is still going up.”

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