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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 23:19 GMT 00:19 UK
Testicular cancer deaths plunge
chemotherapy
Modern chemotherapy drugs have increased cure rates
The number of men dying from testicular cancer in the UK has fallen by almost three quarters in less than a decade, research suggests.

Only Swedish men have enjoyed such a dramatic improvement in their fortunes.

However men in eastern Europe are not faring so well, an international study published in the Lancet has found.

Death rates in that region are dropping - but at a far slower rate.


Testicular cancer is a classic example of a cancer that is generally curable when the right treatment is given

Professor Peter Boyle, Imperial Cancer Research Fund
In the UK, between 1975 and 1979, there were on average 276 deaths a year from testicular cancer, while between 1995 and 1997 there were on average 96 deaths a year - a fall of 72%.

In 1998 there were 1,380 cases and 86 deaths.

However, death rates in the UK are still higher than those in the USA and Japan, where the latest treatments became available earlier.

Curable

Deaths from testicular cancer have actually increased in some eastern European countries, with Bulgaria seeing a 13% rise and Poland a 16% rise.

Researcher Dr Fabio Levi said: "Our results indicate that in central and Eastern Europe, widespread and substantial inadequacies exist in adopting adequate treatments."

Professor Peter Boyle, Chairman of Prevention and Control at Imperial Cancer Research Fund, and a co-author of the article, said: "Testicular cancer is a classic example of a cancer that is generally curable when the right treatment is given.

"In spite of the number of cases increasing, deaths from testicular cancer have been declining in North America and Western Europe since the late seventies.

"Death rates in men below age 45 have fallen by about a third in the late 1980s compared to rates in the 1970s. This corresponds to about 500 deaths avoided per year."

He added: "It's comforting to know that the mortality rate is dropping now in the Central and Eastern European countries, although the decline is less rapid than that in observed decades previously in Western countries.

"If the reason for this is merely financial, then we must take rapid steps to correct this situation."

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