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Cancer survival up 11% in two decades

Survival rates for cancer among teenagers and young adults have risen by 11% in twenty years, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer and funded by Cancer Research UK.

It looked at 30,000 young people aged 13 to 24 diagnosed between 1979 and 2001, and examined five-year survival rates for all types of cancer.

The lead author, Professor Jillian Birch, said: "Survival improved overall from 63% between 1979 and 1984 to 74% between 1996 and 2001.

"It is important that cancer services are tailored to suit teenagers and young adults, as their needs differ from older adults and children - clinically and psychologically. Research like this is needed to measure how much of an impact this tailored treatment could have."

The greatest increase in survival rates was seen for leukaemia, up by 21%, while rates for brain tumours, bone cancers and soft tissue cancers have not changed much since the 1980s.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Research like this is vital if we are to measure the impact of changes to the way teenagers with cancer are treated. Recruiting more young people onto clinical trials will help this."

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British Journal of Cancer