HALF of Wiganers will get cancer in their lifetime by 2020 according to a new study by a leading charity.
Macmillan Cancer Support said the projected figure of 47 per cent, up from the current 44 per cent, would put huge pressure on the NHS.
People living longer is thought to be a major reason for the increase.
But the charity said that more people were surviving cancer compared to 20 years ago.
The charity said this was likely to be an underestimate of the true risk facing people alive in 2020, as life expectancy increased and more people developed cancer.
To produce their figures, Macmillan used data on cancer incidence, cancer mortality and deaths from all causes from across the UK.
Last month, Dr Paul Turner - Wigan borough’s consultant in public health - warned there are still too many people ignoring symptoms.
Dr Turner said: “There are three things that people can do to reduce both their risk of cancer and risk of harm from cancer should it develop:
“Firstly, consider those things in your life that may increase your risk of developing cancer in the future.
“Stopping smoking, eating more fruit and vegetables, reducing weight if overweight, reducing alcohol consumption and taking more exercise will reduce your risk of developing cancer.
“Secondly, take part in the cancer screening programmes. The cervical screening programme is for women aged 25 to 64.
“Women receive their first invite during the six months prior to their 25th birthday. The breast screening programme until recently was for women aged 50-70 but is now being extended to cover ages 47-73.
“In most cases, you will not have cancer, however, if you do then the earlier it is diagnosed and treated then the better the outcome. Over the last 50 years treatment has vastly improved and contributed to reduction in cancer mortality rates and improvement in survival.”
Macmillan puts the increased survival rates from cancer down to a greater focus on early diagnosis, advances in cancer treatments and better cancer care.
The growth in the number of people getting cancer is explained by the fact that people are living longer, because as the population ages the incidence of cancer rises.