Cancer survival rates double in last 40 years

04 August 2016 07:58

More sophisticated treatments and faster diagnoses are helping to drive the increase in survival rates

More sophisticated treatments and faster diagnoses are helping to drive the increase in survival rates

The cancer survival rate has doubled over the past four decades in the UK, according to a charity's report.

More sophisticated treatments and faster diagnoses are among the reasons for an increase in survival chances, the report by Macmillan Cancer Support found.

More than 170,000 people across the county who were diagnosed with the disease in the 1970s are still alive.

'Cancer legacy'

Macmillan Cancer Support said that although a growing number of people are surviving long term with cancer, more needed to be done to make sure they received the right care.

It warned that cancer can leave a "legacy" of side effects, such as depression and financial problems.

A total of 625,000 people in the UK are currently suffering with depression after cancer treatment, the charity said.

Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Sadly there is no cancer treatment available at the moment that does not carry a risk of side effects."

Helen Taskiran told BBC News she suffered from depression as a result of surviving cancer.

She was first diagnosed in 1991 with bowel cancer, which she survived, but since then has been told she has four other cancers, including breast, skin and of the womb.

After treatment she was left with swollen arms and legs, tiredness and depression.

These symptoms made it difficult for her to find work, and she claims that some employers even turned her down because she had had cancer.

She said: "Your self-esteem goes down, you're wondering whether people will judge you.

"I've had job interviews where people have turned me down because I've had cancer - so that all adds to the depression. I've been offered jobs and then when I've filled in medical forms all of a sudden the job has disappeared before it's even started," she added.

Variation in survival rates

The review also acknowledges that there is huge variation in survivors according to cancer type.

Lung, brain and pancreatic cancers are still difficult to treat in some cases.

Nell Barrie, of Cancer Research UK, also stressed it was important to continue focusing on "world-leading science to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment".

Cancer-related insurance

Cancer need not spell an end to holidays abroad for patients. They can give themselves protection by taking out cancer-related travel insurance.

This can cover the cost of providing 24/7 emergency medical assistance and replacement medication.

It also provides cover against lost passports, cancelled or delayed plane departures and stolen luggage or possessions.

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