60% of people with cancer live over 5 years

Three out of every five people with cancer will survive for at least five years after the diagnosis, thanks to significant improvements in early detection of the condition.

New figures set to be detailed at a major cancer survivors conference later this year show that, despite the ongoing spectre of the condition, the chances of beating cancer have improved drastically.

Between 1994 and 1997, just 45% of people who were diagnosed with any form of cancer were still alive five years later.

This rate rose to 51.8% between 1998 and 2002 to reach 59.5% between 2003 and 2007.

National Cancer Registry of Ireland figures for the latest period under the spotlight, 2007 to 2009, show the survival rate has jumped again — with 60.2% or three out of every five people still alive after a diagnosis.

The Irish Cancer Society has hailed the situation as proof that early detection cancer screening programmes, coupled with improved treatments, are drastically improving the long-term chances of life after a diagnosis.

The group detailed the figures at the launch of its national conference for cancer survivorship, which will take place on Sept 21 and 22 at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

The society’s patients support services manager, Olwyn Ryan, said 100,000 people are now living with cancer in Ireland, adding that the survival trend should bring hope to people battling the condition and is likely to increase further in future years.

The upbeat figures were revealed at the same time as US research said people who survive bowel cancer are 15%-30% more likely to develop another cancer.

According to the study, published in the respected journal Cancer, the increased risk of a repeat diagnosis is largely dependent on the exact location of the original cancer.

While people with bowel cancer were, overall, 15% more likely to develop a new cancer than the rest of the population, those whose first cancer was in the descending region of the colon were 30% more at risk of a second diagnosis.

The figures are based on analysis of thousands of cancer patients diagnosed between 1992 and 2009.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to look at risk of second cancer according to the specific anatomic subsite of a prior colorectal [bowel] cancer,” the study’s authors said.

“In the long-term, these findings may be useful in guiding strategies for cancer screening and surveillance after a first colorectal cancer diagnosis.”

Bowel cancer is the second most lethal cancer in Ireland, with more than 2,200 people diagnosed with the condition every year.

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