Oesophageal and stomach cancer survival rates have risen dramatically in the last 10 years, figures have revealed.
According to the National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Audit, 50% of stomach cancer sufferers and 45% of oesophageal cancer sufferers now live for three years after diagnosis, whereas a decade ago only a third survived for as long.
These two types of cancers are the fourth most common cause of death from cancer in the UK and affect some 13,500 people every year.
The audit, which is the largest of its kind in the world, features information on more than 17,000 patients in England and Wales between October 2007 and June 2009, according to the Royal College of Surgeons.
It suggests that the chances of long-term survival are boosted if the cancers are detected and treated early.
Consultant gastroenterologist Stuart Riley said: “Unfortunately, most patients with oesophageal or stomach cancer still report symptoms too late. We need to improve the early diagnosis of the disease to increase the proportion of patients eligible for curative treatment and improve survival rates even further.”