The number of people being diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year has hit more than 330,000 for the first time, according to the latest figures published recently by Cancer Research UK.

While more people than ever are being diagnosed with cancer, research has led to more people surviving the disease. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years thanks to improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

In 2001 there were around 283,000 cases diagnosed which means there has been an increase of nearly 50,000 over 10 years.

The main reason for the increase in cases is the ageing population. As there are more people living longer, more will develop the disease.

The figures are published as Cancer Research UK continues its campaign to raise awareness of the importance of research in beating cancer and reducing its devastating impact.

Overall rates of people being diagnosed with cancer have climbed by a more than a third (35%) between 1975 and 2011. In 1975, around 295 per 100,000 were diagnosed with the disease. This increased to almost 400 per 100,000 in 2011. This increase is partly because of risk factors such as drinking alcohol and being overweight. Research has helped to improve the outcome for many. In the 1970s 23% of cancer patients survived ten years. This climbed to around 46% in 2007.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “These figures reinforce the vital need for more research to better prevent, treat and cure cancer. As the population ages, more people than ever before will be told: ‘you have cancer’. Research is the only way we’ll be able to reduce the devastating impact of the disease. One day we will beat cancer. The more research we do, the sooner that day will come.”