EXPERTS predict more than 100,000 women aged over 65 in Scotland will be living with breast cancer by 2040 – more than four times the number today.
New research from Macmillan Cancer Support claims that, as treatments improve and people live longer, more women will have the disease by the time they are pensioners.
The charity is calling for a rethink on the type of cancer care offered by the NHS if it is to cope with the greater demand on services in the future.
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Macmillan's general manager Allan Cowie said: "Cancer care must change if it is to be able to meet the long-term needs of the huge numbers of people – particularly elderly people – who will be living with cancer in the future."
Other UK-wide research into breast cancer found older women are less likely to undergo conserving surgery compared to younger women, and only a small percentage have reconstructive surgery.
Mr Cowie added: "It's important older women with breast cancer feel they have the same options as younger women."
The Macmillan report follows research in medical journal The Lancet, which outlined the impact of cancer on a global scale, with almost 170 million years of healthy life lost worldwide because of cancer in 2008.
Asia and Europe were the main contributors to the global burden, with men in eastern Europe most affected by cancer and its aftermath.
For women, the highest burden was found in sub-Saharan Africa.