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Thursday, December 31, 1998 Published at 03:50 GMT


A million celebrate life after the Big C

Breast cancer screening has helped reduce deaths

A million people are still alive because of successful treatment for cancer, says the Cancer Research Campaign in an upbeat end-of-year report.

Statistics released on Thursday show that around one in 100 Britons who have had a cancer diagnosis within the last 10 years is still alive today.

Most - 300,000 - have skin cancer with the majority of cases being non-melanoma forms which are less likely to kill.

Around six in seven fatal skin cancers are caused by melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer has a 97% cure rate, if caught in time.

Breast cancer accounts for 155,000 of the survivors.

The number of women dying from the disease has fallen by 1,300 in the last decade due to increased awareness, screening, treatment and research.

The Cancer Research Campaign (CRC) says most of the one million are now no more likely to develop cancer than their neighbours or friends.

Health prevention

Professor Gordon McVie, director of the CRC, said: "Success spans across the generations. We are now able to cure 65% of Britain's children who develop cancer, 90% of the young men who are diagnosed with testicular cancer and six out of every 10 women with breast cancer."

[ image: Professor Gordon McVie: 'We can now cure many cancers']
Professor Gordon McVie: 'We can now cure many cancers'
He added that better health prevention aimed at reducing smoking, increasing awareness of the dangers of sunbathing and improving people's diets could prevent tens of thousands more deaths.

Health Secretary Frank Dobson said: "For many people, just the word cancer conjures up fear and dread.

"This army of survivors are living proof of the success of cancer research, prevention and good treatment.

"We must now strive to make this even more of a success story by further reducing the number of cancer deaths in this country - in line with our Healthier Nation targets."

Cervical screening

Researchers expect a series of new treatments to be available in the next few years which will help further reduce the death toll from cancer.

However, there are concerns that some cancers are getting more focus than others, causing inequalities between treatment and support for sufferers.

The CancerBACUP charity found in a recent survey that many people with breast cancer were seeking support and information because of big publicity drives.

But few people were coming forward with other forms of cancer such as lung, stomach or bladder cancer.

And there are worries about screening services following a series of scares in some hospitals and reports that the cervical screening service is in crisis because of a shortage of laboratory technicians.

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