Major drop in UK breast cancer death rate

The death rate for women with breast cancer has dropped 44 per cent in 30 years.
The death rate for women with breast cancer has dropped 44 per cent in 30 years.

The death rate for women with breast cancer has plunged 44 per cent in nearly 30 years, according to new figures.

Analysis by Cancer Research UK suggests that more than 130,000 UK breast cancer deaths have been avoided in the last three decades.

Deaths from the disease hit a record high in 1989, when around 15,600 women lost their lives to the disease.

But better tests and treatment, and increasing awareness of breast cancer, means the death rate for women has since fallen by 44 per cent.

In 1989, there were 59.8 deaths per 100,000 women, dropping to 33.4 per 100,000 in 2017 - the most recent data available.

In 2016, there were 11,563 deaths from breast cancer in the UK.

Cancer Research UK said improvements in cancer screening, surgery, radiotherapy and new drugs have all had an impact, plus more cancers were being picked up earlier.

Around a quarter of breast cancer cases are diagnosed through the NHS breast screening programme.

"These numbers show that research is working, and we should celebrate the considerable progress that's been made - but while lives are still being lost, our work is not done yet," Cancer Research UK's chief executive Michelle Mitchell said on Friday.

"Our ongoing research into the biology of breast cancer is vital. With this increased understanding, we're developing new life-saving treatments; making them kinder, more effective, and more personalised to individual people.

"Diagnosing cancer early can save lives. If you get to know what's normal for your body, you're more likely to notice if something changes and can raise any concerns with your doctor."

Early signs of breast cancer include a lump or thickening in the breast, but some people experience skin changes, breast pain and nipples changing position or leaking fluid.

Australian Associated Press