Cancer death rates drop by 24 per cent in last 20 years

NEW figures released by Cancer Research UK today show that the death rate from cancer in the region has dropped by almost a quarter since the 1990s.

Every year, about 14,700 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North-East.

Research has proved to be the key factor in reducing the number of lives lost to cancer, with improved knowledge about preventing the disease, surgical techniques, precisely targeted radiotherapy and more effective drugs all boosting the outcome for patients.

Death rates show that the proportion of people in the UK who are dying of cancer has fallen dramatically, even though more people are being diagnosed with the disease.

The rising number of diagnoses is largely due to the UK’s ageing population and cancer being more common in older people.

In 1990, 220 in every 100,000 people in the UK died of cancer. Thanks to research improving the outcome for patients, this fell overall by 22 per cent to 170 per 100,000 in 2011.

Cancer Research UK is now urging people to continue donating to the charity so it can fund more research.

Paul Wadsworth, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North-East, said: “We are calling on people to help us bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. It’s not just technology or knowledge that we need to win our fight against cancer – it’s funding.”

The importance of research into the causes of cancer is demonstrated by the big falls in the number of people diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of fewer men smoking.

The link between tobacco and lung cancer was confirmed through research in the 1950s. Death rates for the disease in the UK have dropped by two fifths (41 per cent) in the last 20 years.

But more research is still needed into developing more effective lung cancer treatments.

One example of how research will save more lives in the future is the improvements being made to bowel cancer screening.

A 16-year Cancer Research UK trial showed how a one-off test could reduce the number of deaths from the disease in the UK by almost half.

Cancer Research UK spent about £5m in the region last year on research.

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