According to Cancer Research UK 1 in 2 people born after 1960 can be expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, with adults aged 50-74 accounting for more than half of all new cancer cases in the UK. Changing age profiles in the UK, where it is estimated that by 2020 30% of workers will be over 50, mean that it is likely that employers will at some stage encounter an employee with cancer. Being able to address this evolving health issue in the most effective way is therefore crucial to employers.
Healix Health Services, the leading healthcare trust specialist, has therefore published a new white paper which examines the latest advances in cancer treatment. ‘Cancer Treatment: Market Trends and Medical Update’, aims to help those developing health and wellbeing strategies to tailor cancer cover by understanding the latest treatments and improvements in survival rates.
Keira Wallis, Head of Clinical Services at Healix Health Services and author of the report comments: “It is tremendously exciting that patients with cancer are living longer than ever – the median survival time for all cancer types has increased from 1 year to 6 years since 1980. Advances made in cancer therapy, particularly drug treatments which have fewer side effects and can be taken for very long periods of time, are in great part responsible for this increase in overall survival. This success in treatment and survival rates does, however, mean that employers need to give more thought to how cancer care is addressed as part of their wellbeing strategies.”
The white paper looks at advances in cancer treatment, including adoptive immunotherapy, which uses genetic engineering to help the patient’s own immune cells find and fight cancer cells. The use of tumour genetics to target treatment, rather than the location of cancer in the body is another breakthrough approach to treatment, albeit a costly one. With current estimates suggesting that between 10% and 33% of cancer cases in the UK could be suitable for this particular drug, brokers need to help employers consider all the options and the cost implications.
Proton radiotherapy is also changing the face of cancer care. This results in fewer health cells being damaged than traditional photon radiotherapy which means brain tumours and cancers in places where nearby organs could be damaged can be treated in a more targeted fashion.
“The cost of cancer care continues to be a major challenge and one that brokers have to help their clients face”, continued Keira Wallis. “Brokers need to be able to advise organisations on the latest treatments and cover options, as part of a comprehensive but sustainable corporate healthcare plan.”