The annual number of new cancer cases in British Columbia is expected to soar significantly in the next 15 years, according to a dire warning from the province’s cancer agency.

In an article posted in the latest B.C. Medical Journal, the BC Cancer Agency predicts a 57 per cent rise in cancer cases by 2030.

Those soaring rates coincide with a boom in B.C.’s senior population. The number of people aged 70 and older is supposed to grow by 87 per cent in the same time period. To put that in perspective, right now one in nine B.C. residents is older than 70: By 2030 it will be one in six.

The four most common cancers – lung, colorectal, breast and prostate – are expected to be the most frequently diagnosed.

The agency is also expecting growth in the number of thyroid cancer and melanoma cases, as well as an overall growing demand on the health care system.

“Cancer treatment can involve surgery. It can involve radiotherapy, chemotherapy. There’s palliative and pain services [and] also cancer screening,” said Ryan Woods.

B.C. will need to prepare for demands on lab services and diagnostics, and will also need to increase its expertise in geriatric oncology, according to the report.

The numbers don’t come as a surprise to the BC Cancer Agency, but they do create a need for planning. They say that work has already begun and they’d like to see a comprehensive strategy for the entire province.

Health Minister Terry Lake said the work has already begun.

“In terms of hiring more oncologists, the use of nurse practitioners to help with cancer care and making sure that we have the advance diagnostics,” he told CTV Vancouver.

B.C. still has the lowest overall cancer rates in Canada.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber