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Children's cancer survival rates up

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The number of children beating cancer has risen to more than eight in 10, figures show.

In the last decade the number of children surviving cancer for five years or more has risen from 79% to 82%, Cancer Research UK said.

In the 1960s only three in 10 survived after a diagnosis, the charity said.

Survival rates for liver and bone tumours have made “particularly good progress” in recent years, a spokesman said.

In the last 10 years, five-year survival rates have increased from 67% to 82% for liver tumours and 61% to 68% for bone cancer.

But the charity warned there is “still some way to go” with certain forms of the disease such as neuroblastoma - a rare cancer that develops in the nerve cells - and medulloblastoma - a type of brain tumor. The cancers have five-year survival rates of 67% and 64%, respectively.

The figures were released as the charity launched its annual Little Stars Awards to recognise the courage of children who have undergone cancer treatment, the spokesman added.

Professor Pam Kearns, director of the Cancer Research UK clinical trial’s unit in Birmingham, said: “Although more than eight in 10 children with cancer now survive their disease for more than five years more work is needed to discover better treatments.

“As more and more children survive cancer, it is especially important that we concentrate on improving the quality of life after cancer.”

Professor Peter Johnson, the charity’s chief clinician, added: “Cancer Research UK is funding a range of trials to develop new treatments for cancers where we currently have few treatment options, such as aggressive neuroblastoma.

“We hope these efforts will mean there are even more childhood cancer survivors in the UK in the years to come.”

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