Deaths From Cancer In Young People Have Halved In Last 30 Years

Cancer Research UK report says death rates have fallen, but they are calling for more young adults to take part in clinical trials

The number of teens and young adults who die from cancer in the UK have halved in the last 30 years according to a new report from Cancer Research UK.

The report, Cancer Statistics Report: Teenage and Young Adult Cancer, states deaths fell from about 580 to 300 per year in people aged 15-24, with the largest drop among those with leukaemia. It is believed specialised treatments are behind the statistics.

However cancer remains the main cause of death from disease in teenagers and young adults, leading a teenage cancer expert to call for more young people to be enrolled on clinical trials.

Less than 20 per cent of cancer patients in the 15-24 age group take part in clinical trials, compared to 50-70 per cent under 15 who do this.

Simon Davies, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said he wanted to see greater improvement, adding: ‘It’s fantastic to see such a fall in the number of young people dying from some types of cancers during this time. However, many of the rarer cancers which affect young people like sarcomas have made little or no progress.

‘More investment in rare cancer research is urgently needed. We want to work with Cancer Research UK and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure better access to clinical trials for young people with cancer.’

Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said more needed to be done to make treatments more effective.

He said: ‘Drug development and clinical trials are at the heart of helping more teenagers and young adults both survive cancer and live a full life after their treatment.

‘Too many young people are left out of clinical trials due to rigid age restrictions and this must change for us to continue to see improvements across all cancer types.’

It is thought these restrictions currently exist due to potential dangers in giving young adult cancer patients adult doses of drugs, meaning researchers are often reluctant to develop trials for the 15-24 age group.

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