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Osteosarcoma survival rates show no change

In 2002, only 53 per cent of patients with osteosarcoma were alive five years after diagnosis, showing no improvement on survival rates in 1981

A study has found that only 53 per cent of patients with osteosarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) were alive five years after diagnosis, which shows no improvement on survival rates in 1981.

The figures published in the British Journal of Cancer show that the UK is lagging behind Western Europe on survival. Each year in the UK approximately 400 people are diagnosed with bone tumours, of which osteosarcoma is one of the most common.

The Bone Cancer Research Trust said the findings highlighted the urgent need for new and better treatments.

In the study, researchers looked at survival of those under 14-years-old in northern England and the West Midlands between 1981 and 2002. Researchers suggested the poor progress on survival could be due to continuing problems with delays in diagnosis and a lack of new treatments.

Study leader Dr Richard McNally said the priority should be to get UK survival rates to the same level as those seen in countries such as Germany.

Professor Ian Lewis, an expert in bone cancer at St James's Hospital in Leeds, said: "Survival in the UK is not as good as survival in some other countries and one reason is we haven't improved diagnostic methods."

He added that the drug mifamurtide, produced by IDM Pharma, which had been shown in the US to improve survival by 7-8 per cent, was currently under consideration by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

"If that was available that would be a big improvement on what we're doing currently," Lewis added.

22nd June 2009


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