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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."

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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

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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.

Concern over bowel cancer drugs funding

As many as 6,500 bowel cancer patients could be denied access to life-extending drugs when a fund set up to pay for them ceases to exist next year, a charity has warned.

The charity Beating Bowel Cancer says it is concerned about the availability of drugs when The Cancer Drugs Fund - worth £200 million - stops in 2014.

6,500 bowel cancer patients could miss out on treatment. Credit: PA

The fund was set up for patients in England to access drugs approved by their doctors but which have not been given the go-ahead for widespread use on the NHS.

The aim of the fund was to make it easier for doctors to prescribe treatments even if they have not yet been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

A spokeswoman said that 6,427 patients every year could be denied access to the medicines when the cash flow dries up.

The charity is calling on ministers to create a "workable alternative" to provide the drugs to patients beyond January 2014

Increase in bowel cancer cases 'no surprise'

We know the risk of bowel cancer increases as we get older and, since we're all living longer, it's no surprise to see that the number of people getting the disease is rising.

But when we look at these figures and take people's age into account, we still see that the risk of bowel cancer has gone up in men in the last 35 years.

It's important to find out what's behind the rise and what we can do about it.

– Professor Matthew Seymour, director of the National Cancer Research Network

Bowel cancer survival rates have doubled over the last 40 years and our work is at the heart of this progress.

Our researchers have played a starring role in finding new ways to diagnose and treat bowel cancer - detecting the disease early is helping to save thousands of lives.

And many of the risk factors for bowel cancer are well understood: diet, weight, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

– Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK

Bowel cancer statistics released by Bobby Moore Fund

In 1993, England football legend Bobby Moore died of bowel cancer, the disease that claims the lives of 44 people every day in the UK.

After his death, his widow Stephanie Moore MBE, set up the Bobby Moore Fund in partnership with Cancer Research UK.

World Cup hero Bobby Moore. Credit: PA

The aims of the fund is to raise funds for world class research into bowel cancer and also raise awareness of the disease.

Since 1993, the Bobby Moore Fund has raised over £14 million, which has funded 37 research fellowships.

The new Make Bobby Proud campaign will encourage people to spread the word about the disease and raise funds.

It is especially aimed at the football community, as men are more likely to suffer from bowel cancer.

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