Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Rise in leukaemia cure rate hailed

The cure rate for an aggressive form of leukaemia in teenagers and young adults has significantly increased

Almost half of teenagers and young adults with a typically aggressive form of leukaemia are cured thanks to improvements in treatment and care, according to research.

Led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and co-funded by Cancer Research UK and the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust, the research estimates the cure rate for 15 to 24-year-olds diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in 2006 at 48%.

This is six times the cure rate in 1975, which was just 8%.

The research, published in the British Journal of Haematology, said similarly large improvements are estimated for older patients, right through to those in their fifties.

But older patients today still have poor survival - only 13% of patients diagnosed in 2006 aged 60-69 are predicted to be cured, and this drops to less than 5% of those aged 70 and over.

In the study, cure is defined as the proportion of a group of cancer survivors for whom life expectancy is similar to that of the general population, given their age and sex, but the treatment may still have long-term side effects.

In the UK, around 2,500 people are diagnosed with AML each year.

The risk of developing it increases with age and it is most common in people over 65 years old.

The brighter outlook for young people is because they tend to have AML types which are easier to treat with chemotherapy.

Younger people can also generally be given more intense treatment, and the short-term side effects can now be managed effectively.

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