New research throws light on cancer survival periods
Post by John Chappels
on 22 November 2011 in Health & Wellbeing
Cancer patients can now expect to live up to six times longer on average than 40 years ago, new data shows.
Research carried out by Macmillan Cancer Support shows that in England and Wales, median cancer survival time for all types of cancer has risen from one year to almost six years over the past four decades.
Ciaran Devane, chief executive of the UK cancer charity, said reasons for the increase include the availability of new drugs, and improvements in diagnosis, surgery and radiotherapy.
He said: "This research is a huge breakthrough in seeing the real picture of how long people are living after a cancer diagnosis.
"For years we have counted the number of people who hit certain benchmarks: one, five or 10 years since diagnosis, but it is median survival times that give an accurate new picture of how long on average people might expect to live with different cancers and how this has shifted over time."
Major improvements have been seen in survival periods for breast cancer, colon cancer and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. However, median survival periods for people suffering some other forms of cancer have hardly changed. The research found an improvement of just a matter of weeks for lung and brain cancer sufferers since the 1970s.
Mr Devane said it was important for the NHS and the cancer community to look urgently at the situation and "up [its] game" on these forms of cancer.
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