Cancer patients are on average twice as likely to survive at least 10 years after being diagnosed with the disease than they were at the start of the 1970s, a report shows.
Macmillan Cancer Support said the improvements in survival are partly due to earlier diagnosis as well as more refined treatment.
The report, Cancer: Then and Now, shows that more than 170,000 people are living with cancer in the UK who were diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s
Although survival rates have improved, those who survive many years after a cancer diagnosis do not necessarily have a good quality of life.
Macmillan estimates that there could be around 42,500 people living with cancer who were diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s who may still be dealing with problems linked to their cancer, such as long-term side effects.
Around 625,000 people in the UK are estimated to be facing poor health or disability after treatment for cancer, such as chronic fatigue, incontinence and sexual difficulties.
The number of people living with cancer in the UK is set to grow from 2.5 million people to four million by 2030.
Recent analysis from Macmillan suggests 116,000 cancer patients last year in England did not have the potential long-term side effects from their cancer fully explained to them.
Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said having cancer is no longer necessarily the death sentence it once was but it is life-changing.
“We know that thousands of people are living with the consequences of yesterday’s treatments, illnesses such as heart disease or osteoporosis. They may also be dealing with other issues that are a result of their cancer such as money worries if they are too ill to work. In the future we will have even more people living with cancer in the long-term. Our health service needs to be equipped to meet the increasing demand over the coming years,” she said.