Leukaemia cure rate on the rise

Researchers have said almost half of teenagers and young adults with a typically aggressive form of leukaemia are cured thanks to improvements in treatment and care. The cure rate of 48% is six times that of 1975, when it was just 8%.

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Key reasons for leukaemia cure rate improvement

The main reason for the improvements in facing leukaemia is "the development of new treatments, combined with good levels of recruitment to UK clinical trials", according to the research's lead author.

Dr Anjali Shah, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford, added:

These key issues have been effective in curing more people of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

But levels of cure of this disease in England remain lower than those observed in other European countries, such as Sweden.

The reasons for these differences are unknown.

Young are best placed to undergo leukaemia treatment

The brighter outlook for young leukaemia sufferers is because they tend to have types of the disease which are easier to treat with chemotherapy.

Younger people can also generally be given more intense treatment, and the short-term side effects can now be managed effectively.

Around 2,500 people are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in the UK each year.

The risk of developing it increases with age and it is most common in people over 65 years old.

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Rise in Leukaemia cure rate hailed by researchers

Premier League footballer Stiliyan Petrov's career was ended by acute leukaemia. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Nearly half of teenagers and young adults with a typically aggressive form of leukaemia are cured thanks to improvements in treatment and care, according to research.

The cure rate for 15 to 24-year-olds diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in 2006 is estimated at 48%, six times the rate in 1975, which was just 8%.

The research, which was published in the British Journal of Haematology, said similarly large improvements are estimated for older patients, right through to those in their fifties.

But older patients today still have poor survival - only 13% of patients diagnosed in 2006 aged 60-69 are predicted to be cured, and this drops to less than 5% of those aged 70 and over.

The research was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and co-funded by Cancer Research UK and the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust.

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