Stark warning that Yorkshire's cancer fight is not won despite 10 per cent drop in related deaths

Successes in the battle to tackle cancer death rates in Yorkshire could be undermined by an ageing population at higher risk of the disease, a charity has warned.

Leeds cancer researcher Dr Mark Harland wearing Cancer Research UK's unity bands. Picture by Richard Walker/

Figures published today have revealed that the number of people dying as a result of cancer in the county has dropped by 10 per cent in the last decade.

Research has proven to be the key factor in reducing the number of lives lost to cancer, with improved knowledge about preventing the disease, surgical techniques, precise radiotherapy and more effective drugs all boosting patient outcomes.

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But Cancer Research UK is warning that death rates are expected to increase in the coming years as a rising number of diagnoses has been linked to a population that is growing older and is at higher risk of cancer.

Nicki Embleton, spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s important to remember that even though the death rates are falling, the overall number of people dying from cancer is expected to increase. This is because the population is growing and more of us are living longer.

“Too many people are still being diagnosed with and dying from cancer, not just here in the Yorkshire, but across the UK and around the globe.”

Speaking on World Cancer Day, she said there is “still a great deal of work to do” to ensure more families stay together longer.

The latest figures show that in 2003, 338 in every 100,000 people in the region died from the disease but thanks to advances in treatment, diagnosis and research that figure fell overall by around 10 per cent to 306 people per 100,000 in 2013.

Last year the charity revised statistics suggesting that one in three people will develop cancer after it found that, as people grow older thanks to better health care, around 50 per cent of the population are now expected to develop the illness.

It warned of an urgent need to bolster public health and NHS cancer services to be able to offer better tests and treatments.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK chief executive, said: “If the NHS doesn’t act and invest now, we will face a crisis in the future – with outcomes from cancer going backwards.”

Another charity, Yorkshire Cancer Research, found that Yorkshire has one of the highest rates of cancer diagnosis in the country.

To mark World Cancer Day, Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Care, Anthony Nolan and the Movember Foundation are teaming up to urge people to make donations and wear unity bands to show a united front against cancer. The bands are available for a suggested donation of £2. Visit