The number of people dying from cancer between the ages of 15 and 24 has halved since the 1970s, according to a new report from Cancer Research UK.
Not enough 15-24 year olds are given access to clinical trials
Around 580 people aged 15-24 died from cancer in the mid-1970s, with a death rate of 74.5 per million.
But in 2008-2010, the number of young adults and teenagers dying from cancer had fallen to around 300. Death rate had almost halved to 37.7 per million.
The largest drop in deaths was seen in the leukaemias. In 1995-1999, there were 92 deaths per year from the disease. But by 2006-2010, this had fallen to 60.
Male deaths in this age group from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma also fell, from an average of 20 deaths per year to 14 over the same time period.
Experts say that specialisation in care has contributed towards the drop in leukaemia deaths. Teenagers and young adults with leukaemia are now treated in a similar way to children rather than adults.
In more recent years, brain tumours have been the most common cause of cancer deaths in young adults and teenagers.
But whilst cancer death rates are falling, incidences of cancer in this age group are actually rising, with around 2,100 15-24 year olds diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK.
The report also warns that British teenagers and young adults with cancer are missing out on clinical trials because of age restrictions.
Less than 20 per cent of 15-24 year olds are being given access to clinical trials, compared with 50 to 70 per cent of children.
There are potential dangers in giving teenagers adult doses of drugs. As a result, researchers are often reluctant to develop drugs for this age group.
Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “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.”
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© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013