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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Nov 25, 2011

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A new study from Macmillan Cancer Support, a UK charity, shows that survival rates for breast, colon, and other cancers have improved "dramatically" over the last 40 years, reports The Guardian's James Melkle. However, the study also warns that there has been a lack of investment in other forms of the disease like lung, pancreatic, and brain cancers, which results in uncertain survival for patients. "The analysis of figures for 20 different cancers, based on London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine research, suggests overall median survival times in England and Wales — the time it takes until half those diagnosed have died — have improved from one year for those diagnosed in 1971-72 to 5.8 years for patients diagnosed in 2007," Melkle says. "Six cancers, including colon and breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, have median survival times of more than 10 years." But for nine other cancers, the average survival rate remains less than three years. Cancer Research UK's Peter Johnson tells Melkle that earlier diagnosis and specializations in surgery and chemotherapy will bring big improvements, but that cancer rates will increase as the population ages.

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