Winning the war?: Cancer deaths down by 10 per cent

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CANCER death rates in the UK have fallen by nearly 10 per cent over 10 years according to the latest analysis by Cancer Research UK.

This now means that in 2013, 284 out of every 100,000 people in the UK died from cancer – around 162,000 people.  A decade ago this was 312 in every 100, 000.

The rate of cancer deaths has fallen, largely due to improvements in detection, diagnosis and treatments.

Further encouraging news is seen in the narrowing gap between men and women’s cancer death rates.

Men’s death rates have fallen by 12 per cent from 397 for every 100,000 in 2003 to 349 per 100,000 in 2013. This compares to an eight per cent drop in women – falling from 259 per 100,000 women in 2003 to 240 in 2013. This equates to around 85,000 men and 77,000 women dying from cancer each year in the UK.

Four cancers – lung, bowel, breast and prostate – cause almost half (46 per cent) of all cancer deaths in the UK. The combined death rate for these four cancers mirrors the overall fall, dropping by around 11 per cent over the last 10 years, from 146 people per 100,000 in 2003 to 131 people per 100,000 in 2013.

But it’s not all good news. For some cancers, such as liver and pancreatic, the rates of people dying from the disease have increased over the last decade.

As the population is growing and more people are living longer– and cancer is primarily a disease of old age – the total number of cancer deaths has increased. Around four-fifths of cancer deaths occur in people aged 65 and over, and more than half occur in those aged 75 and older.

Globally, there are an estimated 8.2 million deaths from cancer – 4.7 million in men and 3.5 million in women.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Today, one in two of all people diagnosed with cancer survive their disease for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that three in four survive cancer by 2034.

“It’s important to remember that even though the death rates are falling, the overall number of people dying from cancer is expected to increase. This is because the population is growing and more of us are living longer. Too many people are still being diagnosed with and dying from cancer, not just here in the UK but around the world.

“We’re increasing our efforts into key areas of research such as how to achieve earlier diagnosis, and how best to manage cancers which are currently hard to treat.

“Our scientists are developing new tests, surgical and radiotherapy techniques, and drugs. It’s important to celebrate how much things have improved, but also to renew our commitment to saving the lives of more cancer patients. Together we can all do something to reduce the impact of this devastating disease.”

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