Half of cancer patients now survive 10 years

HALF of people diagnosed with cancer today will survive their disease for at least 10 years compared to 25 per cent in the early 1970s, according to new figures released by Cancer Research UK.

Improvement has been measured across a range of cancers. Forty years ago only 40 per cent of women with breast cancer survived after 10 years compared with 78 per cent today. Ten-year survival for men with testicular cancer has jumped from 69 to 98 per cent over the same period and for patients diagnosed with malignant melanoma the rate has risen from 46 to 89 per cent.

But survival rates for some cancers are still poor. Just one per cent of pancreatic cancer patients and five per cent of lung cancer patients diagnosed today are expected to survive 10 years. Survival from oesophageal cancer is only 12 per cent though it has increased from four per cent in the 1970s. Brain tumour survival is also very low at just 13 per cent despite more than doubling in the last 40 years.

Cancer Research UK has embarked on an ambitious new strategy to accelerate progress with the aim of achieving a 75 per cent overall ten-year survival rate for cancer patients diagnosed in 20 years time.

The strategy involves a raft of measures aimed at accelerating the speed of progress, including improved early diagnosis and the promotion and funding of greater collaboration among scientists from different disciplines which is considered to be key in moving forward cancer research.

Professor Michel Coleman, head of Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Survival Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, whose team produced the survival figures, said: "These results come from detailed analysis of the survival of more than 7 million cancer patients diagnosed in England and Wales since the 1970s. They show just how far we've come in improving cancer survival, but they also shine a spotlight on areas where much more needs to be done.

"We want to see people with every type of cancer get the same chances of living a long life. This won’t be easy, but the progress reported here over the last 40 years shows we’re moving in the right direction."

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