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Last Updated: Monday, 30 August, 2004, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Cancer recovery rates improving
Major improvements have been made in screening and treatment
More cancer patients in Scotland have improved prospects of surviving, according to NHS figures.

The statistics, covering 25 major cancers, estimate that 50% of women and 41% of men now have a probability of being cancer-free after five years.

This compares to survival rates for patients diagnosed between 1977 and 1981 of 36% for women and 25% for men.

Survival rates for cancers of the breast, colon and rectum have shown the greatest improvement.

Breast cancer survival estimates increased from 60% in 1977-1981 to 77% in 1997-2001.

We are still on track to deliver our target of reducing cancer mortality in people under 75 by 20% by 2010
Malcolm Chisholm
Health minister
The improvement was attributed to a combination of new treatments, particularly hormonal treatment, earlier diagnosis and better organisation and delivery of care for patients.

The largest improvement was seen for the rare thyroid cancer, where five-year survival estimates improved from 38% to 79% in males and 51% to 73% in females.

Survival for prostate cancer also rose substantially from 37% to 60%, due in part to a new diagnostic test, used in Scotland since the early 1990s.

The figures were described as "hugely encouraging" by Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm.

Mr Chisholm said the figures pre-dated the Scottish Executive's extra investment in cancer services, and reflected advances made in past decades in earlier diagnosis and better treatment.

He said: "There is clearly still much work to do to tackle the burden of cancer in Scotland.

"However, latest figures show we are still on track to deliver our target of reducing cancer mortality in people under 75 by 20% by 2010."

The figures were compiled by ISD Scotland for the National Health Service in Scotland and Scottish Executive.

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