Cancer death rates in Britain drop 40 per cent thanks to better screening and treatment

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UPDATED:

02:02 GMT, 15 May 2012

Cancer death rates in Britain have dropped to the lowest in 40 years thanks to more people quitting smoking and better screening.

Tens of thousands of people are now beating the disease every year as the disease is caught earlier and patients receive treatment at earlier stages.

Deaths rates for cancer sufferers aged between 50 and 59 have dropped 40 per cent from 310 for every 100,000 people in 1971 to 185 two years ago, according to Cancer Research UK.

Better prevention: Cancer death rates have dropped significantly thanks to better screening for different types of the disease such as breast cancer

Better prevention: Cancer death rates have dropped significantly thanks to better screening for different types of the disease such as breast cancer

And since 1971, deaths for the 50 to 59 group have gone from more than 21,000 a year to less than 14,000 in 2010 out of the 43,100 people of that age group diagnosed with cancer.

In total 309,500 new cases are diagnosed across all age groups each year with 76,000 patients dying from the disease every year.

Professor Peter Johnson told the Daily Express: 'The reduction in people smoking has been a big help and we are also better at diagnosing cancer early and better at treating them.

'Our research has been critical to this progress, and the pace continues to increase as we bring knowledge from our laboratories into the clinic.'

The biggest falls in death rates among men are for testicular, stomach and lung cancers, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. With women, the rates have fallen most in cervical, stomach and bowel cancers as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Someone in Britain is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes while more than one in three will develop some form of the disease in their lifetime.

There are more than 200 types of cancer but 40 per cent of all cancers are preventable if people make a few simple changes to their lives to minimise the risk.

These include doing more exercise, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and less red meat, reducing alcohol intake, and keeping weight down and not smoking.