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UK still lags behind on cancer, how health levy could attract organised crime and why pensioners should take up tai chi

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Wednesday 30 November.

Cancer survival rates are up but the UK still lags behind other countries, reports the Independent.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics showed survival rates have improved for cancers such as melanoma and breast cancer while pancreatic cancer, for example, lags behind. The UK is lagging behind other similarly wealthy countries such as Australia, Canada and Sweden for many cancers.

Further hope is given for breast cancer survival as the BBC reports that new testing is being developed that can identify seven different types of breast cancers. The UK researchers said that this would help doctors decide on the best treatment option, increasing odds of curing the disease.

Putting a levy on NHS access for migrants may ‘attract’ health tourists by acting as ‘a kind of insurance’ to criminal gangs who fly in heavily pregnant women from Africa to give birth on the NHS, writes the Telegraph. Reporting to the House of Commons Immigration Bill committee, Royal Marsden hospital specialist Professor J Meirion Thomas warned the levy would not put off organised crime.

He was supported by RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada, who said: ‘It’s not going to deter organised crime. It opens the floodgates to anyone that wants to have free healthcare. It would rapidly become a nonsense.’

Also on the Telegraph, yoga and tai chi are said to help elderly patients to avoid fall injury by improving balance. New research from French scientists comparing existing trial results found that it not only reduced the risk of falling in the first place but also the risk of injury.

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