Cancer survival rate 'has doubled'

02 May 2014 08:40

'Tipping point' achieved in cancer survival rates, say researchers (Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire)

'Tipping point' achieved in cancer survival rates, say researchers (Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire)

The cancer survival rate has doubled over the past 40 years, new figures have revealed.

Half of people in England and Wales diagnosed today will survive at least a decade, said Cancer Research UK.

Improved screening, diagnosis and treatments have played their part in that progress, but the charity is now calling for more radical advances as it wants to see 10-year survival rates rise to 75% within the next 20 years.

As part of its effort to achieve that aim, it said it will increase what it invests in research by half within the next decade.

Those who need to take out cancer travel insurance for their holidays each year may be further encouraged by the researchers' comments that the latest figures represent a "tipping point" and cancer no longer needs to be seen as a "death sentence" as it was in the past.

While 24% of people diagnosed with cancer in 1971-2 survived for at least a decade, the analysis showed, that figure has risen to 50%.

The analysis is based on the outcomes for more than seven million patients and reveal there has been major progress in the treatment of cancer.

Nevertheless there remain major challenges especially for certain types of cancer, with just 1% of pancreatic cancer patients and 5% of lung cancer patients able to expect to survive for 10 years.

The researchers adjusted the latest results to account for the changing profile of new cancers being diagnosed, as a shift has taken place away from more deadly forms such as lung cancer and towards others with improved survival rates.

Cancer Research UK has singled out key areas for improvement if the 75% survival target is to be reached.

Those specific areas include investing in personalised cancer treatments, reducing smoking rates and working on the cancers with the lowest survival rates.

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