More than a million lives saved from cancer in the last four decades

More than a million lives have been saved from cancer in the last four decades due to advances in treatment and care, new research suggests.

Since the 1980s, UK cancer death rates have fallen by almost a quarter, saving 1.2 million people, according to new analysis by Cancer Research UK.

These rates have fallen thanks to developments in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, including improvements in radiotherapy, screening programmes, drug developments and gene discoveries, the charity said.

Cancer Research UK chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, said that these advancements “reflect the power of research,” and recognised that “a huge number of people in the last 40 years have reached milestones in their lives they didn’t think they’d see”.

“These trends show that together, we are beating cancer – and we couldn’t have made the breakthroughs that have changed people’s lives without the generosity of the British public.”

However, despite these improvements, cancer remains the leading cause of death in the UK, and advances have not been equal across all cancers, Cancer research added.

The charity also raised concerns about the “enormous strain” facing both the NHS and the research sector.

“The situation for people affected by cancer across the UK remains worrying. Long waiting times are leaving many people facing fear and uncertainty,” the Charity stated.

Dame Cally Palmer, NHS national cancer director, said: “The NHS has been seeing and treating record numbers of people for cancer, with survival rates now at an all-time high.”

“From piloting multi-cancer early detection tests to the rollout of lung health checks and the latest precision therapies, NHS teams across the country are making huge progress in the early detection and treatment of cancer and in saving more lives.”