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Medical charities have pinpointed two main reasons why Britain is seen to be lagging behind many other European countries in terms of surviving cancer.
Charities blame late diagnosis and a lack of urgency when it comes to introducing new technology.
A new genetic test has been developed that can distinguish the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
The test will help doctors tell apart slow-growing and aggressive cancers, enabling them to respond with the most appropriate treatments.
One of the biggest problems involved in treating prostate cancer is knowing what kind of disease a patient has. The new Prolaris test measures the activity of genes that drive cell division and provides a Cell Cycle Progression (CCP) score.
A one unit increase in CCP score was found roughly to double the risk of prostate cancer death or recurrence. The test should eventually mean that doctors will not have to "overtreat" patients with strong, debilitating drugs. Professor Jack Cuzick, the study author from University of London said:
"Over-treatment of prostate cancer is a serious issue so it's essential that we have an accurate way of spotting those cancers that pose an immediate risk. For patients with slow-growing tumours, it's far safer and kinder to watch and wait - only acting if the situation starts to change.
"We've shown this test is accurate at telling apart these two different tumour types at many different stages of treatment. [...]
"We want to try and shorten the time it takes to get the results and establish how frequently the test needs to be done in order to be most effective at spotting any changes."
Early diagnosis and screening is a crucial tool in the fight against cancer and makes a significant difference to survival rates of all types of cancer, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK said.
In an interview with Science and Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty, Harpal Kumar said:
"Early diagnosis is incredibly important for cancer, and it is true that it is important across just about every type of cancer.
"We know that for the vast majority of cases, the earlier we detect it, the greater the chances of successful treatment, and often for the patient, must less gruelling treatment, so it really can make an enormous difference."
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