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Child cancer successes marked

Monday November 14th, 2011

Improvements in treatment of childhood cancer have saved at least 5,600 lives in the UK the last 40 years, according to an analysis published today.

The biggest impact has been in the treatment of childhood leukaemia, according to the Cancer Research UK analysis.

It has come up with the figure by estimating the impact of improved survival - for at least five years - since the early 1970s.

More than 80 per cent of children with leukaemia now survive compared with one in three 40 years ago.

Another big improvement has been seen in treatment of neuroblastoma - a cancer of the brain. Some 64 per cent of children now survive the cancer compared with 17 per cent in the early 1970s.

A simple change in the way chemotherapy is given is a key reason for the improvement, Cancer Research UK said. It is now given in higher doses and at more frequent intervals than previously and new trials will target a "particularly aggressive" form of the disease.

The figures were announced in advance of an annual awards ceremony, Little Stars, for children who have undergone treatment.

Professor Peter Johnson, the organisation's chief clinician, said: "More children are surviving cancer than ever before and our efforts are continuing to make an even bigger impact.

"Childhood cancers are difficult to research, with relatively few children diagnosed each year. But our researchers are continuing our efforts to find ways to diagnose the disease earlier and looking for new drugs and making the existing treatments even more effective."

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | UK News

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