Page last updated at 23:10 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 00:10 UK

More teens surviving with cancer

Cancer survival rates have been rising

Cancer survival rates for teenagers and young adults in the UK have risen by a sixth over two decades, figures show.

The first national report into survival rates by Manchester University looked at over 30,000 young people aged 13 to 24 diagnosed between 1979 and 2001.

Five-year survival rates for all cancer types improved from 63% between 1979 and 1984 to 74% between 1996 and 2001, the British Journal of Cancer reports.

Experts said more needed to be done to drive this figure even higher.

The greatest increase in survival rates over the 23-year period was seen for leukaemia.

But rates for brain tumours, bone cancers and soft tissue cancers have not changed much since the 1980s, the report said.

Lead author Professor Jillian Birch said: "It's important that cancer services are tailored to suit teenagers and young adults, as their needs differ from older adults and children - clinically and psychologically.

"Research like this is needed to measure how much of an impact this tailored treatment could have."

There is still much to be done to ensure teenagers have as good a chance of survival as any other age group
Simon Davies, of the Teenage Cancer Trust

Over 70% of cancers happen to people who are over the age of 60. But there are some cancers that are more likely to affect younger people, including leukaemia.

Every day in the UK, up to six teenagers or young adults will find out they have cancer. That is approximately 2,100 new cases a year.

Teenagers with cancer often find themselves in hospital wards with very young children or the elderly. Many feel that their special needs are often forgotten.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Research like this is vital if we are to measure the impact of changes to the way teenagers with cancer are treated. Recruiting more young people onto clinical trials - which has been a priority for childhood cancer - will help this."

Simon Davies, of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said: "There is still much to be done to ensure teenagers have as good a chance of survival as any other age group and are recognised as a distinct group with particular needs.

"Teenage Cancer Trust has been working in partnership with the NHS to develop specialist hospital units which are significantly improving outcomes for young patients, but 60% of teenagers still don't have access to a Teenage Cancer Trust unit.."

Sarah Talbot Williams of the children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent said: "This is great news.

"Not only has there been clear improvement in treatment but now more young people with cancer are recieveing age-appropriate care and support throughout their cancer journey. This is vital to ensuring young people with cancer not only survive but survive well."

Teen cancer diagnoses 'delayed'
09 Jun 08 |  Health

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