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Survival rates improve by 11% for teen cancers

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Survival rates for teenagers and young people with cancer have improved significantly over the last 20 years, according to UK research.

The study, published online in the British Journal of Cancer, looked at survival across all cancers in 30,000 people aged 13 to 24 diagnosed with the condition between 1979 and 2001. Researchers followed them up till 2003.

‘We found that survival for teenagers and young people with cancer improved overall from 63% between 1979 and 1984 to 74% between 1996 and 2001, which is great news,’ said lead author professor Jillian Birch, director of Cancer Research UK’s paediatric and familial cancer research group at Manchester University.

The greatest increase in survival rates was seen for leukaemia, which increased by 21% over the 23 years studied. But survival for brain tumours, bone cancers and soft tissue sarcomas has not changed significantly since the mid-1980s.

It is the first national review of UK cancer survival data that specifically looks at young people.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, added: ‘Research like this is vital if we are to measure the impact of changes to the way teenagers with cancer are treated.’

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