Half of all people diagnosed with cancer today in the UK will survive their disease for at least 10 years, according to landmark figures published by Cancer Research UK this week.
In the South West, this means that around 15,000 people each year can now expect to survive the disease for at least ten years. **
In the early 1970s just a quarter of people diagnosed with cancer in the UK survived 10 years.
Today, Cancer Research UK sets out an ambitious new strategy to accelerate progress with the ambition that three-quarters (75 per cent) of all cancer patients diagnosed in 20 years time will survive at least 10 years.
Funding is needed for vital research into all types of cancer and the charity hopes these latest figures will inspire women across the South West to sign up to Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life events in the South West to raise money to help even more people survive cancer. Men can support Race for Life too by volunteering at events or simply sponsoring their wives, partners, sisters, mums, daughters or friends.
Women with breast cancer now have a 78 per cent chance of surviving at least a decade in the UK, compared to only 40 per cent 40 years ago.
Ten-year survival for men with testicular cancer has jumped from 69 to 98 per cent since the 1970s and, for people diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, 10-year survival has leapt from 46 to 89 per cent.
But it’s not all good news. Just one per cent of pancreatic cancer patients and five per cent of lung cancer patients diagnosed today are expected to survive 10 years. Cancer Research UK has worked to increase research into these cancers but change has been slower than hoped – which is why a renewed focus is needed to make faster progress.
Survival from oesophageal cancer is still far too low at 12 per cent, although 40 years ago it languished at around four per cent. Brain tumour survival is also very low at just 13 per cent, despite more than doubling in the last 40 years.
Saving more lives from all cancers, including those that are hard to treat, is the overriding focus of Cancer Research UK’s new strategy, launched today. The strategy details a raft of measures aimed at accelerating the speed of progress.
Ensuring cancer patients are diagnosed at the earliest possible stage of their disease, when treatment is more likely to be successful, is a key priority for the charity. And it plans to fund more scientists from different disciplines because collaboration is key to moving discoveries from the laboratory into the clinic to make sure patients will benefit sooner.
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.”
Karen Davis, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the South West, said: “Every year, tens of thousands more people are surviving cancer a decade after diagnosis, showing that we’re gradually reversing the tide on this devastating disease. This is thanks to the work of our scientists and doctors, but none of it would be possible without the generosity of the public, whose donations we rely on to fund all our research.
“But each year more and more people are diagnosed with cancer. We believe no one should be diagnosed too late for their life to be saved and effective treatments should be available to every patient, no matter what type of cancer they have. That’s why thousands of women will be raising money through Race for Life events in the South West this summer to help fund vital research.
“Achieving our ambition to see three-quarters of all cancer patients surviving their disease in the next 20 years will be challenging. But with the continued commitment of our scientists, doctors and nurses and the generous support of the public, we hope to see our progress accelerate over the coming years to make this a reality.”
For more information on Race for Life visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0845 600 6050.