Why prevention is crucial to stopping the cancer crisis


Every year 81,000 cancer cases could be prevented if everyone in the UK were a healthy weight, ate a healthy diet, and were regularly physically active, World Cancer Research Fund estimates.



That’s 81,000 people who could potentially be saved from hearing a doctor say those dreaded words: ‘You’ve got cancer’. That’s 81,000 people, and their families, who could be spared the misery that cancer inflicts.



Cancer is a global epidemic, a problem that the World Health Organization warns we will not be able to treat our way out of. There are currently two million people living in the UK who have survived a cancer diagnosis – that’s almost equivalent to the population of Greater Manchester with recent estimates predicting the figure could go even higher, to 2.5 million people. It is essential that prevention be at the heart of our government’s approach to stemming the tide of preventable cancers.



This is why we support Cancer: 2 Million Reasons, a campaign urging UK political parties to take a stand on cancer and to understand that there are two million reasons for the next government to make cancer a priority.






In January the campaign focuses on cancer prevention. Each week we will be releasing statistics about how many cancer cases could be prevented, and introducing some of our supporters who are helping us work towards a world free from preventable cancer.

About a third (32 per cent) of the most common cancers could be prevented in the UK if everyone followed our cancer preventionrecommendations. By following these simple tips, we could help reduce the risk of cancer.



Our cancer prevention work is supported by one of our fundraisers, and breast cancer survivor, Ros Oxley. The mother-of-three was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2013. Within a year Ros had undergone months of treatment and had the strength to complete a 3km fun run to raise money for World Cancer Research Fund.



The senior manager, who completed her charity challenge without wearing her wig for the first time in front of her colleagues, said that knowing that she could help vital research into cancer prevention spurred her on.



Ros says: “I know how stressful and painful this disease can be, and I want to help as many people as possible reduce their risk of developing it if they can.



“People need to protect themselves and I want to make sure that I can help people realise that there are things that they can do to minimise their chances of developing cancer.”



It is time we all took action to help protect ourselves and prevent the misery cancer causes.



Together we can help reduce the number of people who develop preventable cancer, and help people live happier, healthier, cancer-free futures.



WCRF Logo Artwork_positive_Word_A4

Cancer deaths in youngsters drop by nearly 60 per cent in 40 years

Cancer deaths in children and young people have fallen by 58 per cent in the past 40 years, according to new figures announced by Cancer Research UK today.



Progress in treating the disease has led to this unprecedented drop among youngsters aged 24 and under, with around 1,300 deaths each year in the mid-1970s dropping to around 550 deaths today.



“In the next 5-10 years Cancer Research UK hopes to double theamount it spends on these cancers.” – Harpal Kumar, CEO



The steepest decline was in leukaemia, where the average number of deaths dropped by 39 per cent in the past 10 years, falling from around 180 deaths each year to around 110.



Despite this, cancer remains the biggest killer of children and young people in the UK, with around 550 young lives lost to the disease every year, many from brain tumours.



Professor Pam Kearns(link is external), director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit in Birmingham(link is external), said: “These figures are testament to the real progress we’re making in treating children and young people with cancer. Cancer Research UK has been instrumental in this progress. But hundreds of young people are dying from cancer each year in the UK, which means there’s still much more we need to do.”



Despite improvements in survival, cancer has a huge impact on youngsters. Children can face months of painful treatment, as well as the upset of being away from home and friends and unfortunately some face living with long-term side-effects from their treatment, such as infertility, and disability, which have an impact throughout their adult lives.



Professor Kearns added: “Every day, I see the extreme bravery of children and young people going through difficult treatments.  Whilst many go on to live full lives, they may have to deal with the side-effects of treatment for years to come. So it is vital that we continue to increase funding for research into kinder and better treatments that will offer new hope to children and their families.”



The new figures are announced as the charity launches Cancer ResearchUK Kids & Teens – an ongoing campaign to fund more research to find better, kinder treatments and cures to beat cancer in younger people sooner.



Fiona Barnett from Wimbledon, whose son Rufus was diagnosed with leukaemia aged six and attended a reception hosted by Samantha Cameron at 10 Downing Street this week to launch the campaign, said: “When they told me it was leukaemia my first question was ‘is he going to die?’ Treatment started immediately and over the course of that first year Rufus had to endure seemingly nonstop lumbar punctures, injections and general anaesthetics, not to mention infections, horrible medicines and hideous side-effects. It felt like it would never end, but one year after diagnosis we were so relieved to hear that Rufus was responding well, which indicated that he had a very good chance of complete recovery.



“We would like to thank all the doctors and nurses who continue to care for Rufus for the duration of his treatment, and for that wonderful moment when we were given genuine hope for him beating this horrible disease. It is also impossible to ignore the decades of research that have given us the chance of a happy ending, and that have ensured that the treatment Rufus receives has the potential to be so successful, for that we will be forever grateful.”



Around 1,600 children and a further 2,200 teenagers and young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK.  Overall ten-year survival for cancer in children aged 14 and under has almost tripled since the 1960s, with around three quarters of children with cancer now cured. But survival is significantly lower in teenagers and young adults than in children, for several cancer types.



Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Cancer causes more deaths among children and young people than any other disease in the UK, so it’s hugely encouraging to see that death toll now falling steadily. But as the largest funder of research into children’s cancers in the UK, we will keep going until no young lives are lost to cancer.



“Money raised by ‘Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens’ will be restricted to research into cancers affecting children, teenagers and young adults, enabling us to better understand these cancers and find better and kinder treatments and cures. In the next 5-10 years Cancer Research UK hopes to double the amount it spends on these cancers.”



These mortality data were compiled by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK using data from the Office for National Statistics and the regional cancer registries in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland using the latest data for 2012. For more information please contact the press office.

Call to prioritise cancer care as number living with disease reaches record high

Thanks to an ageing population and better diagnosis and treatment, 2015 will see an unprecedented number of people living with cancer, according to Macmillan Cancer Support (link is external).



The charity says that an estimated 2.5 million people will be living with the condition in the UK in 2015.



“Cancer is mainly a disease of old age so as we live longer, more people will develop the disease” – Nick Ormiston-Smith, Cancer Research UK



The figure, drawn from an analysis (link is external) published in 2012, is nearly half a million higher than five years previously.



As a result, charities are calling on the UK’s political parties to make fresh commitments to support those with the disease.



Nick Ormiston-Smith, Cancer Research UK’s head of statistical information, highlighted that the number of cancer cases will increase as the UK population ages. He added that “research has also led to improvements in survival so more people are living longer following a cancer diagnosis”.



“It’s essential that the next government increases investment in the NHS, particularly in diagnostics and treatments, so our cancer services are fit to deal with the increasing demand of an ageing population and can ensure the best possible results for patients”, he added.



Lynda Thomas, Macmillan’s chief executive, welcomed the news, but stressed that “progress is a double-edged sword”.



“As numbers surge, the NHS will soon be unable to cope with the huge increase in demand for health services,” she added, warning of a “cancer crisis of unmanageable proportions” if all political parties do not commit to making cancer care a priority.



As the political parties begin their unofficial General Election campaigns, Macmillan is urging them to pledge in their manifestos to boost UK cancer survival further, and match the best in Europe.



It calls for the “highest levels of dignity and respect” to be paid to all cancer patients and improved end-of-life care.



A Department of Health (link is external) spokesman said that cancer survival is now at its highest ever level in England.



“The NHS is rising to the challenge this presents and is seeing 51% more patients with suspected cancer than 2010, offering cutting-edge drugs through the cancer drugs fund, focusing on high quality compassionate care as never before, and working to introduce a personalised recovery care package for every patient,” he said.


CRUK_Pos_CMYK_300 .

More than a third of people with abnormal results drop out of bowel cancer screening

CRUK Bowel Cancer



Almost 40 per cent of people who have abnormal results from bowel cancer screening tests and are referred for further investigation ignore their next screening invitation two years later, according to a Cancer Research UK study (link is external)* published today in the British Journal of Cancer (link is external).



“It’s a concern to see that people who have abnormal results are dropping out of the screening programme” – Dr Julie Sharp



In contrast, just 13 per cent of those who had a normal result did not continue with screening.



People who receive an abnormal result from the test – called the Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBt)** – are referred for follow up tests including a colonoscopy to rule out a cancer diagnosis but could be at risk if they fail to continue with bowel cancer screening.



The team, from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London (link is external) (UCL), previously found*** that 11 – 12 per cent of those referred for further investigations do not attend the appointments for this.



The Cancer Research UK team looked at almost 40,000 people’s behaviour to find out if their experience of bowel cancer screening affected the likelihood of doing the same test two years later.



Lead author, Dr Siu Hing Lo from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL, said: “Our research has identified a small but high risk group who are failing to continue with bowel cancer screening tests. We urgently need to understand why people are dropping out of bowel cancer screening and not attending the follow up investigations as we know the test saves lives.”



The NHS Bowel Screening Programme (link is external) aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage – before people have obvious symptoms and when treatment is much more likely to be successful. The test picks up blood in stool samples which can be a symptom of bowel cancer. When blood is detected people are invited for a colonoscopy and if cancer is diagnosed treatment can begin as soon as possible to maximise the chances of survival.



Men and women aged 60 – 74 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 50 – 74 in Scotland, are sent an invitation letter and then a home screening kit every two years****.



Father-of-two John Marsh, 67, from London was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007. He said: “It was thanks to the bowel cancer screening programme that my cancer was found at an early stage. I’d had no symptoms at all but a month after my 60th birthday, I got a screening test in the post. I’d never heard of it, but I did it straightaway. I didn’t have a second thought about doing it.



“After doing the test I got a letter asking me to do the test again and then I was called for a colonoscopy. I saw the consultant and he confirmed it was bowel cancer. I had surgery in the March but I didn’t need chemotherapy. I’ve had three colonoscopies since then and they’ve all been clear.



“I know a few people who haven’t done it and I just can’t understand it.”



Bowel cancer accounts for 13 per cent of cancers diagnosed in the UK, with more than 41,000 people diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. It kills over 16,000 people each year.



Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer and screening is important to help us beat the disease. Only 58 per cent of people who are offered bowel screening in England complete their testing kits, and it’s a concern to see that people who have abnormal results are dropping out of the screening programme.



“It’s really important to repeat the test every two years and Cancer Research UK is working hard to make people aware of bowel screening and help to remove any barriers that might be stopping them from taking the test.”





For media enquiries contact the press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.




* Lo et al. Predictors of repeat participation in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme. British Journal of Cancer. DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2014.569


Notes to Editor

** The Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBt) looks for hidden traces of blood in your stools, which can be a sign of bowel cancer.



*** Lo et al. Colorectal cancer screening uptake over three biennial invitation rounds in the English bowel cancer screening programme. Gut. DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306144.



**** In England men and women aged between 60 and 69 years old take part, and this is being extended to include people up to the age of 74. Currently, people older than the age range can request a screening kit. In Wales and Northern Ireland the programme covers men and women aged between 60 and 74. In Scotland the programme screens people aged between 50 and 74 years.



Healthy lifestyle choices add up to cut bowel cancer risk


The risk of developing bowel cancer can be reduced by adopting some or all of five key healthy lifestyle changes, German researchers have confirmed.



Scientists at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke found that the greater number of these identified healthy behaviours a person adopts, the greater chance they have of avoiding the disease.



The five lifestyle choices highlighted are: taking regular exercise; maintaining a healthy weight; not smoking; limiting alcohol consumption and eating a balanced diet.



The research, published in the open access journal BMC Medicine (link is external), also shows that the effects proved greater for men than women. Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in men and third most common in women.



Fiona Osgun, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “We know that there are lots of things you can do to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, including being more active, keeping a healthy weight, not smoking, cutting down on alcohol and eating a healthy balanced diet. And this large study reiterates what other studies have shown – that the effects add up – so the more of these lifestyle factors you adopt, the lower the risk of bowel cancer.



“It’s great to see research that is reaffirming that when it comes to reducing your cancer risk an all-round approach to a healthy lifestyle is best.”



More than half (55 per cent) of bowel cancer cases occur in the developed world, such as North America and Western Europe. Previous research has highlighted a link between Western lifestyles and cancer rates.



But most studies have focused on individual factors in isolation, such as red meat consumption, rather than the combined impact of such a lifestyle.



This 12-year study, part of the wider European Prospective Investigation on Cancer and Nutrition (link is external) (EPIC) study, looked at the data of 347,237 men and women from 10 nations, recording 3,759 bowel cancer cases.



Participants were assigned one point for each of the five behaviours they adopted (or zero if they didn’t adopt any of them) adding up to a cumulative score.



Those who followed a combination of healthy behaviours all had a lower bowel cancer risk than those who practised only one. Those who combined two healthy behaviours saw their risk lowered by 13 per cent, rising to 21 per cent for those with three healthy behaviours, 34 per cent for those practising four and 37 per cent for those who adopted all five.



Lead author Krasimira Aleksandrova said the findings show that more than one in five of male cases and about one in ten female cases could have been prevented if everyone adopted all five healthy behaviours.





  • Aleksandrova K., Mazda Jenab, H Bueno-de-Mesquita, Veronika Fedirko, Teresa Norat, Dora Romaguera, Sven Knüppel, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Laure Dossus & Laureen Dartois & (2014). Combined impact of healthy lifestyle factors on colorectal cancer: a large European cohort study, BMC Medicine, 12 (1) 168. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-014-0168-4 (link is external)

UK’s Second Stand Up To Cancer Raises Over £14.5M

SU2C Image


On Friday 17th October 2014 stars from TV, Fashion, Music, Sport and Film came together for Stand Up To Cancer, the joint national fundraising campaign from Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK.


The live TV fundraiser on Channel 4 reunited hosts Alan Carr, Davina McCall and Dr Christian Jessen. The campaign has raised an incredible £14,520,756 so far in 2014, for research into cancer which will help accelerate new cancer treatments to UK patients and save more lives.


#standuptocancer and #SU2C trended all night on 17th October on Twitter, with over 125,000 mentions, and one Facebook post about brave cancer patient Lloyd reached over 1.6 million Facebook users, had 44,000 likes and 3,700 shares.


Dr Harpal Kumar, CEO of Cancer Research UK said “Friday night was the culmination of an amazing campaign that has seen the nation come together to turn the tables on cancer. I’d personally like to thank everyone who joined us to Stand Up To Cancer this year – through contributing on the night, watching the show, buying our merchandise, taking part in our events and fundraising for us over the past few months.  Thanks to the generous public, we are getting ever closer to our goal of beating this disease. Your donations will fund vital research which will turn breakthroughs in our labs into better treatments for patients sooner and help us save more lives.”


When all donations are in, Cancer Research UK will begin the process of assessing the research proposals received, and the task of allocating the funds raised to new clinical trials, which will help turn breakthroughs in the labs to breakthroughs in hospitals.



Liberia: We need an unprecedented global effort to beat the Ebola menace


As the Ebola death toll in West Africa continues to rise, we are rapidly scaling up our response to try to match its reach. But, along with most of the humanitarian and international community, we are playing catch-up. The initial response to this crisis was too slow and too small.


The self-flagellation and recriminations must come later. What must come now, with absolutely no delay, is an unprecedented global effort to prevent Ebola from shattering the futures of a whole generation of children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.


I write this from Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.


This country accounts for more than 2,000 of the 3,400 estimated deaths from Ebola across the region, but with cases going unreported, some dying without seeking help, and others succumbing in communities which are barely accessible, that’s almost certainly a gross underestimate.


UNICEF calculates that around 2,000 children in Liberia have lost both parents to the virus.


And what does a child in this position face? The chances are, they will be a ‘contact’, meaning they were in very close proximity to someone who had Ebola.


For those who are identified, this means 21 days under quarantine being monitored every day for symptoms.


For some children here, it means being pushed to the margins of society, and rejected by a community whose instinct to help is paralysed by their sheer terror of this horrific disease.


Jennifer’s story


All this means that Jennifer* is comparatively fortunate. She is living under quarantine with her aunt, her two brothers Robin*, 6, and Luke*, 12, and her 13-year-old sister Sarah*.


Their mother became sick a little over a month ago, and died on 7 September. Just two weeks later, their father died in the same facility. It was only at this point that the children were placed under quarantine with their aunt.


We provided them with a 21-day survival pack. It includes food, water and hygiene items. We will also give psychosocial support to try and help them cope.


But like all children here now, they face a precarious future. Even if they emerge unscathed from isolation, not everyone will accept that they are safe to be around or to play with.


Raising awareness, treating victims


Save the Children has been running a mass public campaign to educate people about Ebola. Messages are broadcast three times a day, every day, on 14 different radio stations in eight of Liberia’s 15 counties and we’ve produced tens of thousands of posters and factsheets, too. We estimate that they have reached 260,000 people.


We’ve also built a treatment centre in north-west Liberia and are building another west of Monrovia along with ten smaller care centres in an innovative community-level approach to ensure no one is left to die without access to healthcare.


Although the challenge is unprecedented, and the spread of this virus wildly unpredictable, there are some certainties: a co-ordinated global effort on the scale required will save thousands of lives.


Equally, there are going to be many children who require the world’s compassion, care and attention for some time to come.


The international and humanitarian community must pour money, technical expertise and equipment into Liberia and across the region.


We must not look back on this crisis in years to come and realise we did not do enough, and that thousands of people lost their lives as a result.



SAVE THE CHILDREN LOGOSave the Children teams are treating patients and raising awareness of Ebola in West Africa. But we need your support to reach more people.


NHS cancer services need increased investment or ‘cracks will begin to show’



NHS cancer services in England are at tipping  point as staff fight a brave ‘rear-guard action’ to keep the services viable for cancer patients, according to a new report commissioned by Cancer Research UK.


In the wake of years of efficiency savings and the recent NHS reforms, as well as growing demand, cancer services and staff have been under mounting pressure. The report calls for urgent action to increase investment, particularly in diagnostic services, and also highlights the need to review both the leadership and commissioning of cancer services so they are fit to meet the looming demands of an ageing population and the predicted rapid increase in cancer cases.brave ‘rear-guard action’ to keep the services viable for cancer patients, according to a new report commissioned by Cancer Research UK.

The research highlights a number of concerns and key challenges facing the NHS:


–  A rising demand for services and a lack of capacity to respond to this                demand;


–  Due to the removal of the National Cancer Action Team and cancer                  networks, there has been a loss of leadership capacity at national and local      level;


–  A fragmentation of commissioning across the patient pathway;


–  Wide variation in the roles and responsibilities of new NHS organisations          and the need to rebuild relationships and regain expertise.



Responses in the report revealed a strong consensus that urgent action is needed, with one expert commenting: “We need more funding. Instead of progressing/developing our cancer services which are already significantly underfunded, our services are actually being cut. It is becoming impossible to deliver all the new cancer targets and quality of care is deteriorating.”



In 2013-14 alone, over 1.4 million patients in England were referred by their GP for suspected cancer. This represents a 50 per cent increase in referrals from 2009-10. There have also been significant increases in the number of diagnostic tests being carried out and the number of patients receiving treatment for cancer following a referral from their GP.



Generally, waiting time targets have held up. But the 62 day target – the wait between urgent referral and first treatment – has dropped below the standard of 85 per cent for the first time since 2009-10.



Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “In many ways, NHS cancer services have held up remarkably well. They have coped. Staff have bravely dug-in and done their best in the face of overwhelming change, increased demand, squeezed budgets and fragmented leadership. But that cannot continue indefinitely.



“In their own words the people that have propped up these NHS services tell us in this report that ‘enough is enough’. They can’t go on like this with no help or support coming over the horizon. And they certainly can’t improve services so that our cancer outcomes are up there with the best in the world.



“More people are surviving cancer than ever before – survival rates in the UK have doubled in the last 40 years because research is delivering better diagnosis and treatments. But the number of cases is also going up as the UK population ages. This combination means we’ll be diagnosing more people, treating more people and helping more people recover from cancer in coming decades.  The NHS will need to be fit to meet that purpose and that needs increased investment, planning and leadership now.”

‘Liquid’ lung cancer biopsies will speed up drug resistance research

Analysing cancer cells from a lung cancer patient’s blood sample could help monitor and predict their response to treatment, according to a new study from scientists in Manchester.



“This latest research should accelerate progress by helping us understand why certain patients stop responding to drugs” – Professor Charlie Swanton, Cancer Research UK


The finding will speed up research into new therapies, and improve the understanding of how tumours become resistant to drugs, experts said.


The new research looked at blood samples from six patients with a form of the disease called small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), “a devastating disease, where treatments often work initially, but then the tumour develops resistance and carries on growing,” said Cancer Research UK’s Professor Charlie Swanton, who was not involved with the research, but who works on a large UK lung cancer study, calledTRACERx that is looking at how lung cancers evolve over time.


“We’re only just beginning to understand how tumours do this. As a result, survival rates have barely improved over the last forty years”.


The slow progress has been, in part, because understanding how resistance develops has been hampered by researchers’ inability to track the disease over time, Professor Swanton added.


One key technical hurdle is that a traditional tissue sample – or biopsy – contains a limited amount of tumour cells.


“Access to sufficient tumour tissue is a major barrier to us fully understanding the biology of SCLC,” says Professor Caroline Dive at Cancer Research UK’s Manchester Institute – part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre – who led the new study.

To try to tackle this problem, her team have been studying the potential of using circulating tumour cells (CTCs) – cells that have broken off from the tumour and are circulating in the blood – to monitor a patient’s disease without needing a biopsy.


In their new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, Professor Dive’s team, working with lung specialists at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, found that blood samples from patients with SCLC had many more circulating tumour cells in them than did samples from patients with other types of cancer.


They discovered that the number of CTCs in each SCLC patient’s sample was related to their survival – patients with fewer tumour cells in their blood lived longer.


In addition, the team were able to use cells extracted from a patient’s blood to study their disease in mice. When they treated these mice with the same chemotherapy drugs as the patients, the mice responded in the same way as each donor patient.


“This liquid biopsy is straightforward and not invasive, so can be easily repeated and will allow us to study the genetics of each lung cancer patient’s individual tumour,” said Professor Dive.


“It also means that we may have a feasible way of monitoring patient response to therapy, hopefully allowing us to personalise and tailor individual treatment plans to each patient.

“We can use these models to help us understand why so many SCLC patients acquire resistance to chemotherapy, and to search for and test potential new targeted treatments,” added Professor Dive.


According to Professor Swanton, the new finding will accelerate research by allowing scientists to understand why certain patients stop responding to drugs.


“This will allow us to develop new ways to diagnose and treat this disease – ultimately improving survival for patients with small cell lung cancer,” he added.




  • ​​​Hodgkinson C.L, et al. (2014). Tumorigenicity and genetic profiling of circulating tumor cells in small-cell lung cancer., Nature medicine, PMID: 

Half of all cancer patients now survive at least 10 years

Fifty per cent of people diagnosed with cancer today will survive their disease for at least 10 years,according to landmark figures published by Cancer Research UK today (Tuesday).*


In the early 1970s just a quarter of people

CRUK_Pos_CMYK_300diagnosed with cancer 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.


“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 British public, we hope to see our progress accelerate over the coming years to make this a reality.” – Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive.


Women with breast cancer now have a 78 per cent chance of surviving at least a decade, 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.”


Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, 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 British 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.


“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 British public, we hope to see our progress accelerate over the coming years to make this a reality.”