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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 10:25 GMT
UK cuts cancer deaths
Breast tumour
Cancer deaths have fallen in the UK
Britain has succeeded in significantly cutting cancer death rates, moving from having the third highest to the fifth lowest in Europe.

Professor Peter Boyle, of the European Institute of Oncology, presented the data to the Britain Against Cancer conference in London on Tuesday.

He told the conference that the UK, along with Luxembourg, has achieved a goal of cutting cancer deaths in men by 15%.


There's no room for complacency

Professor Peter Boyle
Both countries are also near achieving the Europe-wide target, set in 1985, for women.

Only Austria and Finland fully met the target for both men and women by 2000.

Experts estimate that the plan, which focussed on cancer prevention, screening and education, has been associated with 90,000 fewer cancer deaths across Europe.

Downward trend

Professor Boyle said: "There is, of course, no room for complacency and we need to continue our efforts to improve diagnosis, treatment, screening and prevention activities.

"In particular, we need to persuade more women to stop smoking."

But he added: "The downward trend in cancer death rates in the UK appears likely to continue."

He told the BBC: "Overall, there was a 9% reduction in the number of cancer deaths expected in Europe."

He said the most important focus over the next few years was cutting smoking levels in women in order to cut cancer deaths.

Dr Ian Gibson MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, which is hosting the conference said: "Britain no longer needs to be ashamed of our death rates from cancer in comparison with our European neighbours.

"But there's no room for complacency. We have the right policy framework in place, but cancer networks need the extra money they have been promised to enable them to meet the government's targets for reducing cancer deaths in this country."

Reassurance

Joanne Rule, chief executive of the charity CancerBACUP, said: "The evidence that we've moved from having the third highest cancer death rates in the EU to the fifth lowest will reassure thousands of people affected by cancer.

"The earlier that people are diagnosed and treated, the more likely it is that they will have a positive outcome. But there's still much more to do."

See also:

29 Oct 02 | Scotland
02 Jul 02 | Health
24 Jun 02 | Health
28 Feb 02 | Health
03 Dec 01 | Health
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