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Long term cancer survival improving

Press AssociationPress Association 31/07/2016

Cancer patients are now twice as likely to live for at least 10 years after diagnosis than they were in the early 1970s, new UK research shows.

UK charity MacMillan Cancer Support has released a new report showing that more than 170,000 people in the UK, who were diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s, are still alive.

More sophisticated treatment and an ageing population has led to the increase, but the charity also acknowledged there's still a huge variation in survival rates according to cancer type.

The consequences of increased survival was more pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), with more people living for longer with long-term side-effects, the charity said.

"More and more people are being diagnosed with cancer and, in general, having a more sophisticated life with their cancer than perhaps they would have done," Macmillan chief executive Lynda Thomas said.

Around 625,000 people in the UK are estimated to be facing poor health or disability after treatment for cancer.

Long-term consequences range from painful lower-leg swelling in women after breast cancer to emotional trauma, and as the numbers of people living with cancer in the UK is set to grow from 2.5 million people to four million by 2030, more support will be needed.

The challenge for medical professionals is to "keep up to speed" with the potential side-effects as new treatments emerge, Mrs Thomas said.

Macmillan also estimates that there could be around 42,500 people who were diagnosed with cancer in the 1970s and 1980s who may still be dealing with long-term consequences.

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