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Cancer death rates to rise in 2011

The number of people who will die of cancer in Europe this year is expected to decline, according to experts.

Researchers believe that lung cancer fatality rates are levelling off in Britain, while they are actually climbing in Europe among women.

A total of 1.3 million people are expected to die from cancer in 2011.

The fall in death rates has been welcomed by the head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, Mike Hobday, but he warned there is an annual 3% rise in the number of people living with the condition in the UK.

"We know that there are currently two million people in the UK living with a cancer diagnosis, if the current rate continues, the number will have doubled to four million people by 2030," he added.

"Cancer is changing. For many cancer is now a long-term condition and it is important to realise that it is no longer just about people dying quickly of cancer or being cured."

Figures from the Mario Negri Institute, University of Milan and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, show an overall fall in cancer death rates of 7% in men and 6% in women when compared with 2007.

"However, the number of women dying from lung cancer is increasing steadily everywhere apart from in the UK, which has had the highest rates in women for a decade and is now seeing a levelling off," the Annals of Oncology cancer journal reports.

The overall downward trend in cancer death rates is driven mainly by falls in breast cancer mortality in women, and lung and colorectal cancer in men.

"Lung, colorectal and breast cancers are the top causes of cancer deaths, and these are showing major changes," the authors wrote.

Declines in mortality from other major cancers such as stomach, uterus, prostate and leukaemia are likely to be seen in 2011, say the researchers.

Increases in deaths from pancreatic cancer in women, which had been observed in 2004, also appear to have levelled off.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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