Half of cancer patients now survive for a decade or more

Half of people diagnosed with cancer will now survive for at least 10 years, according to figures published by Cancer Research UK.

Malignant melanoma 10-year survival rates have leapt from 46% to 89% over the past four decades (photo: Dr P Marazzi/SPL)
Malignant melanoma 10-year survival rates have leapt from 46% to 89% over the past four decades (photo: Dr P Marazzi/SPL)

An analysis of over 7m patients showed that cancer survival rates are now twice as high as the 1970s. It means 50% of people diagnosed with cancer today can expect to survive for at least a decade.

However, despite increases in the survival rates of people with breast cancer, testicular cancer and malignant melanoma, just 1% of pancreatic cancer and 5% of lung cancer patients are expected to survive 10 years or more.

Professor Michel Coleman, head of Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Survival Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, whose team analysed the figures, said:  ‘These results 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.’

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chairwoman, said: ‘This is encouraging news, and a real credit to both the NHS and patients who are more aware of their own health and are taking steps to follow up on any health concerns that they might have.’

Cancer Research UK wants survival figures to reach 75% by 2035, a target chief executive Dr Harpal Kumar describes as ‘challenging’.

The RCGP has made cancer its first ‘enduring priority’. The initiative seeks to help GPs build on existing diagnostic skills and improve quality of care for cancer patients.

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