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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Sharp fall in cancer deaths
More people are quitting smoking
There has been a dramatic fall in the number of people dying prematurely from lung cancer.

Scientists from Cancer Research UK say the drop has been due to successful anti-smoking campaigns.

The charity also hailed a dramatic fall in the number of deaths from breast cancer.


We've been enormously successful at persuading people to quit

Professor Richard Doll
The decreases are among the sharpest in the world. However, this is largely because historically the UK has had a high number of cancer deaths.

In the 1960s, almost 250 men in every 100,000 per year died before the age of 70 from smoking-related diseases.

The figure now is just over 100 men per 100,000 per year.

Sharp fall

Smoking-related cancers prematurely killed between 55 and 60 women per 100,000 in 1990, but the figure has now dropped to fewer than 50.

Although lung cancer accounts for most smoking related cancer deaths, smoking is also linked to cancers of the gullet, bladder and pancreas.

Just 10 years ago, the UK had the highest number of deaths for breast cancer in the world.

But deaths from breast cancer among the under 70s have dropped by 30% in the last decade.

Sir Richard Peto, of Cancer Research UK, told the BBC: "We have got the best decrease in the world in lung cancer deaths, we have got the best decrease in the world in breast cancer deaths - lung cancers because lots of people have stopped smoking; breast cancer because the treatment has improved.

"These are the most important cancers there are in countries like Britain."

Professor Richard Doll, who first discovered the link between smoking and lung cancer, said: "We've been enormously successful at persuading people to quit.

"As a result, the death rate from lung cancer is tumbling more quickly than anywhere else in the world."

A Cancer Research UK spokesman said: "We're not claiming there aren't problems with survival from some cancers, or that everything's rosy, but these are two really dramatic pieces of good news that people haven't really been aware of."

He said people giving up smoking, rather than not taking it up, had made the biggest impact on lung cancer deaths.

"What we've been really good at in this country is persuading people to quit," he said.

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "We are extremely encouraged by the drop in breast cancer deaths announced today."

"Improvement in treatments, breast screening services and raised awareness of the disease are key to this significant trend."

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has announced 25 new linear accelerators to provide radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients on the NHS.

Ministers had pledged to introduce 45 of these machines in hospitals across England by 2004 in the NHS Cancer Plan, published in 2000.

But a spokeswoman from Macmillan Cancer Relief said: "This will not offer improvements for cancer patients unless there are the skilled people in place to use them."

She called for more radiographers to be recruited in the NHS.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Niall Dickson
"Better drugs are on the way"
Cancer Research UK Professor Richard Peto
"We have got the biggest decrease in the world in deaths from lung cancer"
Professor of Oncolgy Karol Sikora
"I think it is fantastic"
See also:

12 Mar 02 | Health
26 Jun 02 | Health
27 Jul 02 | Health
02 Jul 02 | Health
17 Mar 00 | C-D
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