Breast cancer survival rates soar, majority now long-term survivors

A groundbreaking study funded by Cancer Research UK reveals that the majority of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer can now expect to become “long-term survivors.” The research indicates a significant improvement in survival rates since the 1990s. Women diagnosed between 2010 and 2015 were found to be 66% less likely to die from the disease within five years compared to those diagnosed in the 1990s.

The study, led by researchers from Oxford University, examined the survival rates of 500,000 women in England diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common type of cancer in the UK, between 1993 and 2015. The researchers primarily focused on cases where the disease had not spread beyond the breast and analysed the patients five years after their diagnosis, when the risk of death from cancer was highest.

The findings showed that women diagnosed between 1993 and 1999 had a 14.4% chance of death within five years of the cancer being detected. However, this figure dropped to 4.9% for those diagnosed between 2010 and 2015. For some women, the risk of death within five years was as low as 0.2%. The researchers concluded that “most [patients] can expect to be long-term cancer survivors.”

Experts attribute the improvement in survival rates to various factors, including new treatments, enhanced radiotherapy, better detection and breast screening, and studies exploring the different characteristics of breast cancer. Dr Carolyn Taylor, professor of oncology at Oxford Population Health and lead author of the paper, stated, “In the future, further research may be able to reduce the breast cancer death rates for women diagnosed with early breast cancer even more.”

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Cancer Research UK described the figures as “heartwarming” and commended the scientific input that led to the “huge improvements” over the last 20 years. The large-scale study will enable doctors to provide an accurate prognosis for women, according to the charity.

However, Cancer Research UK’s CEO, Michelle Mitchell, noted that “the UK lags behind other countries when it comes to cancer survival.” She called for governments across the UK to show political leadership in cancer by taking action to diagnose and treat cancers earlier and ensuring that the NHS has enough staff and equipment to meet future demands.

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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