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UK breast cancer mortality falls 10% over five years, overtaken by prostate deaths for first time

Published on 05/02/18 at 11:27am

Breast cancer deaths in the UK have fallen by 10% in the past five years, according to research released by Cancer Research UK to coincide with World Cancer Day on 4 February.

The report noted that, in 2015, 35 women in every 100,000 in the UK died as a result of breast cancer, down from 39 in every 100,000 five years earlier. CRUK said that this decrease was due to a better understanding of the genetics of the disease alongside better surgical techniques and newer, more effective drugs such as aromatase inhibitors.

The report found that mortality rates for all cancer types had fallen by 5% over five years from 2010, though advances in the four most common cancers (breast, prostate, lung and bowel) were muted as hard-to-treat variants such as pancreas, brain and oesophagus still demand further research to effectively reduce deaths.

“It’s fantastic to see research saving lives right now, with the rate of women dying from breast cancer dropping year on year,” said Sir Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK. “But while the rate of people dying from cancer overall is decreasing, the overall number of people developing and dying from cancer in the UK and worldwide is expected to rise. This is because the population is growing and more of us are living longer.

“This World Cancer Day it’s important to celebrate how much things have improved, but also to renew our commitment to saving the lives of more cancer patients. More still needs to be done to bring down the number of women affected by breast cancer and to tackle the cancers that are harder to diagnose and treat. By donating and investing in more crucial research we can keep fighting this devastating disease.”

The data quickly follows a report by Prostate Cancer UK which revealed that the disease had overtaken breast cancer for the first time to become the UK’s third biggest cause of cancer death.

The charity argued that its disease area could benefit from the surge in investment that breast cancer has seen recently, receiving twice as much money for research compared to Prostate Cancer UK.

“We haven’t yet got the big game-changing advances that breast cancer has had in terms of the screening programme and also the precision medicine developments,” said Angela Culhane, Chief Executive of Prostate Cancer UK. “We need to bust that myth that it is just an old man’s disease that you don’t need to think is significant.”

Matt Fellows

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