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EDITIONS
Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 00:52 GMT
More children surviving cancer
Laboratory work
Research has helped boost survival rates
British survival rates for children with cancer are now as good as those in the US.

Figures published on Sunday show there are 25,000 people alive who have been successfully treated for the disease.

Eighty-one per cent of those who suffer acute lymphoid leukaemia, the most common children's cancer survive, compared to 85% in the US.

Amongst those who have had Hodgkin's disease, a type of lymphoma, 97% of British patients survive compared to 94% in the US.


The numbers of children with each different form of the disease are mercifully quite small

Dr Sue Ablett, UK Children's Cancer Study Group
Experts say the success is due to their international collaborations.

The UK Children's Cancer Study Group (UKCCSG) published the figures in a book to mark its 25th anniversary.

The organisation says the UK still lags slightly behind the US because British doctors have had problems carrying out research into childhood cancers as there are relatively few sufferers.

But better collaboration with treatment centres across Europe means this is no longer such a problem, allowing research into treatments to go ahead.

Small numbers

The UKCCSG says it now wants to concentrate on less common childhood cancers, in which the UK still lags behind.

Cancer Research UK is now funding the UKCCSG to take part in Europe-wide trials for Wilms' Tumour, Ewing's Sarcoma, Hepatoblastoma and Neuroblastoma.

Wilms' Tumour is a cancer of the kidney which is usually diagnosed in children aged between one and five years old.

Ewing's Sarcoma is a cancer the bones, Hepatoblastoma is a cancer of the liver and Neuroblastoma occurs in the nerve cells.

Dr Sue Ablett, executive director of the UKCCSG welcomed the funding.

"Finding better treatments for children with cancer has always been difficult because the numbers of children with each different form of the disease are mercifully quite small.

"It's only by carrying out large-scale studies that we can find out which treatments are best, and to do this we've had to work with our colleagues across the UK and the rest of Europe."

Sharing knowledge

Sir Paul Nurse, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "In terms of the key successes of cancer research over the last few decades, childhood cancer is undoubtedly one of the jewels in our crown.

"We're delighted that for many forms of the disease, children in Britain do as well as anywhere in the world.

"But while these figures are very encouraging, we believe that by continuing to share expertise with colleagues across the world, it should be possible to do even better."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Warr
"Cancer survival rates in the UK are now amongst the best in the world"
Professor Andy Pearson, Cancer Research UK
"We are beginning to see laboratory advances making an impact"
See also:

18 Nov 02 | Health
17 Sep 02 | Health
13 Aug 01 | Health
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