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Most children with leukaemia cured

Improved cure rates for children with leukaemia mean three out of four diagnosed with the disease are now expected to be cured, according to experts.

Leukaemia cure rates for children have increased from 25% in the early 1970s to 68% in the early 1990s, according to latest estimates.

Scientists expect this figure to have risen to 73% for children diagnosed more recently.

Previously the success of leukaemia treatment was judged by the number of patients surviving five years.

Now a "cure" is defined as the point at which life expectancy returns to normal, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Researchers based their leukaemia cure rate prediction on data from the National Registry of Childhood Tumours, which holds information on almost all children under the age of 15 diagnosed with cancer in the UK.

Dr Anjali Shah, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "It's great that children diagnosed with leukaemia can be told that the numbers cured of this terrible disease are increasing.

"We think the substantial increase in survival and 'cure' is largely due to improvements in treatment and care, which have come about thanks to international research collaboration and well-organised, multidisciplinary trials - many of which have been led by researchers in Britain."

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British Journal of Cancer