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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Targets to tackle cancer by 2020
Patient having chemotherapy
Better treatments have helped to improve cancer survival
By 2020 two-thirds of people diagnosed with cancer should still be alive after five years, say Cancer Research UK.

The goal is one of ten ambitious targets set out by the charity for the future of cancer care.

It comes as figures show a patient with cancer now has a 46.2% chance of being alive ten years after diagnosis compared with 23.6% 30 years ago.

The Department of Health backed the targets and said work was needed to further improve cancer prognosis.

Increased survival over the past three decades can be attributed to earlier detection of cancer, greater use of specialist surgery, cancer screening programmes and advances in treatments.

Three-quarters of people will know how to reduce their risk of cancer
Four million fewer adults will be smokers
Risk of cancer in under 75s will fall from one in four to one in five
Two-thirds of cancer will be diagnosed early when it can be treated
Half of all patients will have better targeted treatments with fewer side effects
Two-thirds of cancer patients will be alive after five years
Difference in risk of dying from cancer between rich and poor will be reduced by half
Nine out of ten patients will get better information
We will have a detailed understanding of the causes and changes in the body in two-thirds of all cases of cancer
Rapid progress will continue after 2020

A team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that for all cancers combined the ten year survival rose by 11% in the past decade and five-year survival rates increased from 39.7% to 49.6% over the same period.

But survival ranges from just 2.5% for pancreatic cancer to 95% for testicular cancer.

Two-thirds of patients with breast cancer are alive 20 years after diagnosis but there has been no improvement in survival for lung cancer.

Professor Michel Coleman who led the study said within the figures there were success stories and disappointments.

"We don't generally use an overall survival figure for cancer, partly because it is not a helpful number to individual cancer patients anxious to know their own chances.

"But since the new goals relate to cancer as a whole, we feel it is important to define a simple baseline for watching progress."

2020 goals

Cancer Research UK want three-quarters of people in the UK to know how to reduce their risk of cancer by 2020.

They also want two-thirds of cancers to be diagnosed at an early stage when the cancer can be successfully treated.

And if survival rates in the poorest communities was brought into line with that in the richest communities, more than 17,000 deaths could be avoided every year.


Sources of stem cells
Cancer develops when a cell picks up a number of faults in certain genes
Abnormal cells multiply to form a tumour
Angiogenesis: molecules from cells trigger blood and lumph vessel growth
Metastasis: cancer cells speread around the body forming new tumours elsewhere
1 of 5

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Our goals are as broad as they are ambitious.

"They recognise the importance of furthering our fundamental biological understanding of cancer while at the same time taking that knowledge out of the lab and turning it into new treatments."

He said the UK came out top in Europe for direct cancer research funding.

"We read a lot of negative stories about the UK's place in Europe so it's encouraging these figures show such dramatic improvements in cancer survival."

National cancer director Professor Mike Richards said: "While research charities, universities, industry and the NHS have always worked together, those collaborations have never been stronger than they are today.

Of course the NHS should pay for cancer drugs. You can't put a price on somebody's life
Martin, London

"This means we are getting more potential treatments out of the lab and into the clinic, and we are enrolling more patients than ever into clinical trials."

"The Department of Health welcomes these goals because they will spur everyone in the field to work to further improve the prospects of cancer patients, especially those with types of cancer for which outcomes sadly remain poor."

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The targets set out by Cancer Research UK

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