Within Malaga province, the number of cancer cases has increased by 10 per cent in a decade. This is according to Emilio Alba, director of the intercentre oncology unit in Malaga which covers the Carlos Haya regional hospital, the Hospital Civil and the University of Malaga.
This growth, he says, is currently registered at between 1 and 1.5 per cent each year and is down to two principal factors: the progressive ageing of the population and earlier diagnosis of tumours.
The Spanish Society for Medical Oncology (SEOM), overseen by Miguel Martín, on Monday released a study which explains the dangers of the ageing of the population. According to the study, in 2015 there were 247,771 new cases of cancer, 1,000 more than the forecast level for 2020. This figure, says Martín, shows that there is a shortfall in the number of oncologists as well as the funding that will be needed to pay for this increase in treatments.
Currently there are around 7,000 new cases found in Malaga province each year, according to statistics from the Spanish Statistical Office (INE). The most commonly diagnosed are colon, prostate, lung and bladder. Among men, the cure rate is at 50 per cent, while the figure is at 60 per cent among women. For some cancers, including breast cancer, the cure rate is much higher: 82 per cent in Malaga.
Age plays a big role in incidence of cancer; those aged between 45 and 49 have a 3.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent chance (men and women respectively) of being diagnosed with cancer, while those numbers increase to 42.2 and 23.5 percent in the over 80s.
What this means, according to Dr Alba, is that with such a high life expectancy in Spain, half of men and a third of women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lives. That's not to say that there is a cancer epidemic, but rather that people are living longer and that favours the development of cancer.