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Call for plain cigarette packaging after new cancer data

Plain cigarette packaging should be introduced to help lower the amount of people dying from lung cancer, a leading health charity has said.

Macmillan Cancer Support made the renewed call for the reintroduction of the controversial policy, amid a Government review into the effectiveness of plain packaging.

Read more: Cigarettes plain packet review

Chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, Ciaran Devane said:

Lung cancer patients deserve better. It is high time we closed the gap between survival rates for different cancers and give everyone the best possible chance of recovery.

Firstly, we support the call for plain packaging of cigarettes to stop people taking up smoking, secondly we must catch the illness earlier through better awareness and we have to make sure access to surgery is more uniform across the country to reduce inequalities in cancer survival.

It cannot be right that you are much more likely to get the surgery you need if you live in Leicestershire than if you live in Lancashire.

– Chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support Ciaran Devane

Deaths from three common cancers will 'almost halve'

The number of people dying from three common cancers - breast, prostate and bowel - is expected to almost halve by the end of the decade, according to findings from a leading health charity.

Mortality rates in breast, prostate and bowel cancers have improved since 1992, according to Macmillan Cancer Support. Credit: Reuters

Over a third, 36%, of breast cancer sufferers will succumb to the disease, a 61% drop in the mortality rate from 1992, Macmillian Cancer Support found.

A further 39% of people with bowel cancer would die, down from 67% in 1992.

However, the lung cancer mortality rate remains high, with 76% of patients expected to die from the disease, compared to 91% in 1992.

Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "People diagnosed with three of the four most common cancers are more likely to survive but GPs need more support to help them diagnose lung cancer earlier."

90% chance of surviving bowel cancer with screenings

Bowel cancer screening improves the chance of catching the disease early and gives patients a 90% chance of surviving, a health campaigner has said.

Chief executive of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, Mark Flannagan, remained sceptical about research which claimed a lot of colonoscopies were unnecessary and urged people to get checked.

If bowel cancer is detected at an early stage, there is over a 90% chance of it being successfully treated.

This is why taking part in the bowel cancer screening programme is so important. If you have an abnormal result you'll be sent for a colonoscopy to detect polyps, which can develop into cancer over time.

Whilst this study raises reasonable questions about the need to remove all polyps which are found, much more research needs to be done to refine the choice of which polyps should be routinely removed in the future.

– chief executive Beating Bowel Cancer Mark Flannagan


Some bowel cancer prevention 'unnecessary'

Medical experts are concerned too many people are undergoing unnecessary operations to remove growths on the bowel which will never become cancerous.

Doctors have warned against racing ahead for preventative treatment for bowel cancel. Credit: PA

Concerns about missing cases of bowel cancer - the third most common cancer in the UK - could be putting people at unnecessary risk of bowel perforation or major bleeding, they said.

Small growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum called bowel polyps, which effect 15-20% of the UK population are removed as some can eventually turn cancerous.

Professor Geir Hoff and colleagues in Norway, writing online in the British Medical Journal said data showed less than 5% of adenomas develop into bowel cancer.

Male bowel cancer on the increase

  • Bowel cancer rates among men have soared by more than a quarter in the last 35 years, Cancer Research UK have said.
  • Incidence of the disease has climbed from 45 cases per 100,000 men in 1975-77 to 58 cases in 2008-10.
  • Over the same time period, rates for women have increased only slightly from 35 to 37 per 100,000.
  • Increasing rates of bowel cancer may be linked to obesity and diets high in red and processed meat and low in fibre.
  • Another key factor is the increasing age of the population.
  • But why there should be such a stark difference between men and women is still unknown.
  • Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK after lung cancer.

Clock is ticking for bowel cancer patients, charity warns

We're very worried that the clock is ticking for future bowel cancer patients.

The uncertainty around how these drugs will be funded in the years to come will mean patients who could benefit from having treatment in the future, may be denied access because the money isn't there to fund it.

It is vital that the funding remains in place to ensure that bowel cancer patients will continue to get access to the drugs which their doctors say they need on the NHS.

Without it we fear patients' lives will be put at risk. We simply can't go backwards to a time when cancer patients had to beg for life-extending treatment.

– Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer

What is the Cancer Drugs Fund?

  • The Cancer Drugs Fund is money the Government has set aside to pay for cancer drugs that haven’t been approved by NICE and aren’t available within the NHS in England.
  • This may be because the drugs haven’t been looked at yet or because NICE have said that they don’t work well enough or are not cost effective.
  • The Government have said that the fund is worth £200 million per year.
  • The Cancer Drugs Fund started at the beginning of April 2011.
  • This fund is shared between the 10 Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in England.
  • The fund is to continue until the end of March 2014.
  • From 2014 the Government plan to introduce a new way of setting prices for cancer drugs which aims to make more drugs routinely available in the NHS.
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