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Page last updated at 08:52 GMT, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

'Amazing watershed' in cancer treatment

A study of cancer survival rates in England and Wales has found that people diagnosed with the disease typically live nearly six times longer than 40 years ago.

But the findings from Macmillan Cancer Support show progress has been patchy. Although there have been some big improvements -- such as a seventeen-fold increase in survival for colon cancer -- for lung, brain and pancreatic cancer there has been virtually no change.

But Professor Peter Johnson, the chief clinician for Cancer Research UK, told Today presenter John Humphrys that he is optimistic about the future of cancer treatments.

"I think we're at an amazing watershed in cancer biology and our understanding of what makes the disease tick, and how we can best fight it. And I think we will see this pace of progress accelerate continuously over the coming years. I am very optimistic about the future."

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