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Cure rates for childhood cancers have significantly improved

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Three-quarters of children with cancer are cured today compared with only a quarter in the early 1970s, new figures have shown.

Over the last 40 years, 15,000 more children have beaten cancer than would have been the case if survival rates had not improved, said Cancer Research UK.

“Thanks to research, more children than ever are beating cancer”

Kate Law

The chances of a child surviving leukaemia, the most common childhood cancer, for at least five years has increased from 33% to more than 85%.

Liver cancers in children had seen survival soar from just 14% in the 1970s to 80% today.

Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said: “Thanks to research, more children than ever are beating cancer.

“But there is much more to be done to give every child diagnosed with cancer the best chance of surviving and to improve treatments so that children can lead a full life after their diagnosis,” she said.

“Cancer Research UK’s new strategy highlights our commitment to do more to beat cancer in children, teenagers and young adults,” said Ms Law.

“To turn this into reality we’re funding a number of trials and research projects which aim to understand more about the disease and to develop more effective and kinder treatments,” she added.

Startling improvements have not been seen in some types of childhood cancer, said the charity. For neuroblastoma, which affects the nerves, five-year survival has risen from around 17% to 67% – but the most aggressive form of the disease remains very difficult to treat.

The figures were released to mark the launch of Cancer Research UK’s Little Stars Awards which recognise the bravery of children who have undergone cancer treatment.

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