Developing cancer has proven to be more common than getting married or having a first baby, research suggests.
In 2014, in the most recent figures available, there were 361,216 cancer diagnoses in the UK, compared to 289,841 marriages, according to an analysis by Macmillan Cancer Support.
New cancer cases are also as common as graduating from university and more common than a woman having her first baby, according to the study.
In 2015 alone, 271,050 babies were born to first-time mothers in England and Wales, compared to 319,011 new cases of cancer. Data also suggests that over the last ten years more than 1.2 million people under the age of 65 have been diagnosed with cancer.
The study includes 343,000 people in the UK who were diagnosed with cancer in their 20s, 30s or 40s between 2006 and 2015.
“Being told you have cancer changes your life, and it can leave people feeling as if they’ve been thrust into the unknown, bewildered and unprepared”, said Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, Lynda Thomas.
Research among more than 2,000 people for the charity also shows that cancer is the disease people fear the most, mounting to 37 per cent, ahead of Alzheimer’s disease at 27 per cent, stroke (7 per cent), depression (4 per cent), heart disease (4 per cent) or multiple sclerosis (2 per cent).
The charity’s study also suggest that for in one in 10 people in the UK (10 per cent), cancer is the biggest fear of all, even surpassing that of terrorism.
Macmillan, however, said that 90 per cent of people they surveyed living with cancer reported that they were still living their lives as normally as they could.
Jane Ives, 49, mum of two from Hampshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. “Getting a diagnosis of cancer was probably the single most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me”, she said.
“My biggest fear was not seeing my children fully grow up. Not being there for those milestones in their lives… While the fear never quite leaves you- you realise life goes on after cancer and you appreciate the here and now.”