Content last reviewed: July 2017


Cancer is the largest cause of premature death (below the age of 75 years) in England.  Overall, more than one in four people die from cancer and one in two people under the age of 65 years will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime.

The major factor that increases an individual’s risk of cancer is increasing age however, much cancer is preventable; the main modifiable risk factors are using tobacco, being overweight, eating unhealthy diets, sunburn and drinking excessive alcohol.

Public Health England’s website ‘Longer Lives’ compares overall and specific disease premature mortality from similarly deprived local authorities (LA).  It shows that Central Bedfordshire is worst out of 15 similar LAs caused by cancer in 2013-15; it was 36th out of 150 over all the LAs.

Earlier detection and an ageing population have led to cancer incidence nationally increasing by around 2% annually.  Given these growing numbers, there has been a shift from seeing it as a fatal illness to a chronic one.  This has led to a rising focus on the long term needs of people living with and after cancer.  As well as health care needs, people with cancer may also have emotional and practical needs which require the involvement of social care services.

Last updated Tuesday, 25th July 2017