Drop in child cancer deaths
Cancer deaths in children and young people have fallen by almost 60% in the past four decades, according to new figures announced by Cancer Research UK today.
Progress in treating the disease has seen deaths drop from around 1,300 a year in the mid-1970s to around 550 deaths a year today, the charity said.
The steepest decline was in leukaemia, where the average number of deaths dropped by 39% in the past 10 years to around 110.
Despite this, cancer remains the biggest killer of children and young women under the age of 24 and the fourth biggest killer of young men aged 15-24 in the UK.
Brain tumours cause the largest number of deaths, however leukaemia is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in children aged 14 and under.
The charity released the figures as it launched Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens, a new fundraising campaign which aims to accelerate research into kinder treatments and cures for children, teenagers and young adults with cancer.
Professor Pam Kearns, director of the Cancer Research UK clinical trials unit in Birmingham, said: "These figures are testament to the real progress we're making in treating children and young people with cancer.
"Every day, I see the extreme bravery of children and young people going through difficult treatments.
"Whilst many go on to live full lives, they may have to deal with the side-effects of treatment for years to come. So it is vital that we continue to increase funding for research into kinder and better treatments that will offer new hope to children and their families.
Three-quarters of under-15s with the disease in the UK are now cured compared to only a quarter in the late 1960s, the charity said.
However, survival is significantly lower in teenagers and young adults than in children for several cancer types.
Every year, around 1,600 children and a further 2,200 teenagers and young adults are diagnosed with cancer
Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Cancer causes more deaths among children and young people than any other disease in the UK, so it's hugely encouraging to see that death toll now falling steadily.
"But as the largest funder of research into children's cancers in the UK, we will keep going until no young lives are lost to cancer."
The Prime Minister's wife, Samantha Cameron, is helping to raise awareness of the campaign and held a special reception at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday to recognise the bravery of 20 youngsters from across the UK who have been diagnosed with cancer.