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Action needed to give cancer patients a fighting chance

For cancer survivor Greig Trout, beating the disease twice has been an inspiration.

He is now trying to inspire other sufferers with his video diary chronicling the '101 things to do when you survive'.

Unfortunately for many other patients, cancer is not caught early enough and 160,000 people still die from the disease each year in the UK.

Experts say better diagnosis rates have the potential to save thousands of lives, as well as saving money on expensive treatment for late-stage cancers.

ITV News reporter Sascha Williams reports.

GP check 'vital' if people 'notice anything unusual'

It is "vital" people check with their GPs as soon as something unusual happens to their bodies if they want the best chance to beat cancer, according to a healthy charity.

Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK explained:

Diagnosing cancer at its earliest stages is crucial to give patients the best chance of survival.

There are a number of reasons why cancer may be diagnosed at an advanced stage.

For some cancers, such as pancreatic, symptoms are often only noticeable once the tumour has already started to spread. But for many others there are chances for the cancer to be picked up earlier.

It's vital that people are aware of their body and if they notice anything unusual for them they should visit their GP. And GPs play a critical role of course, knowing when symptoms need to be investigated and referring patients promptly for tests.

– Sara Hiom

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Cancers diagnosed early would 'save NHS £44m'

If four of the most common cancers - colon, rectal, lung and ovarian - were diagnosed early, it could save the NHS £44 million in treatment costs ever year, a report has found.

According to Cancer Research UK's report, Incisive Health:

  • Early diagnosis in those cancers would benefit at least 11,000 patients.
  • Diagnosis figures for seven cancers in England - breast, colorectal (bowel), lung, melanoma (skin), Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, ovarian and prostate - showed that 46% were detected at a late stage in 2012.
  • Breast cancer had the best diagnosis rate - 83% of cases of were identified early, highlighting the benefits of national screening.

Report: Almost half of cancers 'caught too late'

Almost half of cancers diagnosed in England are discovered late, knocking back the chances of successful treatment, according to a report.

Testing for cancer has evolved past a standard biopsy - these blood tests were used to screen men for prostate cancer. Credit: PA

Some 52,000 cancer patients could improve their chances of survival if they were diagnosed early - and save the NHS £210 million, the report from Cancer Research UK claims.

Experts believe if all cancer patients had tumours detected earlier an extra 5,000 people would survive five years or more after their initial diagnosis.

Lung cancer had the worst record of delayed diagnosis, with 77% of cases being spotted late.

Early-stage tumours can often be removed by surgery, but once a cancer has started to spread around the body it becomes much more difficult and costly to treat.

Study finds wild berry effective in cancer treatment

Scientists believe a wild berry native to North America may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer.

Researchers at King's College Hospital and the University of Southampton found that adding extracts of the berry to chemotherapy cycles may improve the effectiveness of conventional drugs.

The team tested the effectiveness of chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) in killing off cancer cells.

Chokeberry is a wild berry that grows on the eastern side of North America and is high in vitamins and antioxidants.

The research was published online in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

'Significant' rise in skin cancer cases in last five years

The number of people being admitted to English hospitals with skin cancer has risen by 41% in just five years, according to new figures.

Public Health England figures show admissions for both non-melanoma skin cancer and malignant melanoma rose from 87,685 in 2007 to 123,808 in 2011.

Applying sun cream is one way to ward off the danger of skin cancer. Credit: Myung Jung Kim/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The study also found that the overall cost of inpatient treatment for skin cancers in 2011 was more than £95 million.

The British Association of Dermatologists said skin cancer was largely preventable and more needed to be done to educate people about the "serious risks" of exposure to the sun.

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Number of deaths from breast cancer 'falls by 38%'

The number of deaths from breast cancer has fallen by almost 40% since the early 1990s, according new data from Cancer Research UK.

The charity said there has been improved detection of breast cancer through routine screening and experts have developed more specialist care and effective treatments. The figures show:

  • Breast cancer - death rate falls by 38%
  • Bowel cancer - death rate falls by 34%
  • Lung cancer - death rate falls by 27%
  • Prostate cancer - death rate falls by 21%

Death rates for common cancers 'drop by a third'

Death rates for four cancers which account for half of all cancer deaths in the UK have fallen by almost a third since the early 1990s, new figures show.

Over the last two decades the combined death rates for breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer have fallen by 30%, according to data from Cancer Research UK.

Death rates for four cancers fallen by almost a third since the early 1990s Credit: PA

Between 1991 and 1993, 146 people out of every 100,000 could have expected to die from one of these four cancers but by 2010 to 2012 these figures dipped to 102 out of every 100,000.

The cancer charity said that the figures show that research has had a "powerful impact" on the fight against the disease.

England's cancer survival rates a 'disgrace'

Cancer survival rates in England are "disgracefully" low, the charity behind research which revealed a postcode lottery of cancer care across the country said.

"It is a disgrace that our survival rates continue to lag behind other European countries," Juliet Bouverie, director of services and influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support, said, warning that we face falling further behind.

The charity has estimated that if the survival rates of the best-performing areas in England were matched across the country, 6,000 more cancer patients would survive.

They also found areas with the poorest survival rates are on average failing to meet at least one key NHS waiting time target for treatment.

This analysis shows an inexcusable postcode lottery which is responsible for 6,000 people dying needlessly within 12 months of being diagnosed with cancer every year,

It's a no-brainer - when patients have to wait longer for diagnosis and treatment their chances of surviving are significantly reduced.

It is also a disgrace that our survival rates continue to lag behind other European countries. Failure to act now will see us fall further behind.

All the Westminster political parties must make cancer a top health priority ahead of the general election and commit to reducing the number of people who are diagnosed late.

– Juliet Bouverie
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