May 15, 2007 / 11:33 AM / 10 years ago

Cancer survival rate doubles

LONDON (Reuters) - The likelihood of surviving 10 years after a diagnosis of cancer has doubled over 30 years, charity Cancer Research UK said on Tuesday.

<p>Malignant breast cancer cells are seen in an undated photo from the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The likelihood of surviving 10 years after a diagnosis of cancer has doubled over 30 years, charity Cancer Research UK said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Handout</p>

Survival rates vary widely among different cancers, but on average a patient diagnosed with cancer now has a 46.2 percent chance of surviving 10 years, the medical charity said.

That compares with just 23.6 percent 30 years previously.

The figures, covering the three decades between 1971 and 2001 in England and Wales, were compiled by Professor Michel Coleman and his team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Five-year survival for all cancers combined rose from 28 percent in 1971 to 49.6 percent by 2001.

“Behind the overall figures lie both disappointments and success stories,” said Coleman.

”Pancreatic cancer and lung cancer both remain low on the scale and have seen little improvement.

“On the other hand, survival rates for breast cancer have improved significantly.”

Almost two thirds of all women newly diagnosed with breast cancer are now likely to survive for at least 20 years, Coleman said.

Five-year survival rates range from just 2.5 percent for pancreatic cancer to 95 percent for testicular cancer.

Cancer Research said the improvements in survival rates were due to a number of factors including:

- earlier detection

- greater use of specialist surgery

- screening programmes

- advances in chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

It said that new treatments on the way offered hopes of further improving the outlook for cancer patients, such as immunotherapy and gene therapy.

The charity outlined 10 targets to be achieved by 2020, including five-year survival rates rising to two-thirds of newly diagnosed patients.

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