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Dementia 'to treble by 2050', but a cure could come in five years...

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 5 December

The Guardian reports that health chiefs have called for a campaign to raise awareness of symptoms amongst the post-retirement population, in a bid to tackle the UK’s stubborn cancer rates.

The results of the EUROCARE-5 study of cancer survival rates across Europe show that outcomes for lung, rectum, melanoma, breast, stomach, prostate and kidney cancers in older patients in England were lagging behind the European average. Sean Duffy, national clinical director for cancer at Public Health England said the UK was closing the gap in some areas, such as lung cancer and melanoma survival, but: ‘We want the best outcomes for all cancer patients and we know that we need to build on the improvements that have been made and do much more.’

A new report predicts the number of patients living with dementia worldwide will treble by 2050, and concludes most governments are ‘woefully underprepared for the dementia epidemic’.

The figures were released ahead of London’s G8 summit next week which will focus on the issue of dementia, and the BBC reports that rising global life expectancy will drive dementia rates in the developing world. Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘The G8 is our once-in-a-generation chance to conquer this condition and we must see meaningful action after the talking is over.’

And on a related note, senior British researchers working to develop dementia treatments have claimed research has entered ‘a new era’ and that we may see a ‘breakthrough in the next five years.’

Researchers called for governments to double the international funding for researching the disease, the Government has pledged to invest £66m by 2015, but they claim that this is still just one-eighth of what is spent on cancer research. Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK told the Independent: ‘We now have the tools to image [dementia’s] pathology…that will enable us to investigate drugs that will affect it. I am full of hope that we are going to have a breakthrough in the next five years.’

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