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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.

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