DEATH rates for the most lethal cancers have dropped across the region by almost a third in the last 20 years, according to new figures.

The number of patients dying from breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer is down by 30 per cent in the East of England, according to the latest Cancer Research UK figures.

Fatalities as a result of all cancers are down by 24 per cent in the same period in the region.

The drop is attributed to more specialised care and treatment, such as that provided in the new £25million radiotherapy cancer centre in Colchester General Hospital.

Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Essex, said: “The latest figures highlight the good news that research continues to save lives from cancer and offer hope that this progress will continue.

“But while the death rate for the four biggest cancer killers falls, it’s vital to remember that we need to do more to help bring even better results over the coming years.”

She added: “There are over 200 different forms of the disease and for some of these the advances are less impressive, such as pancreatic, oesophageal and liver cancer.

“Far too many lives continue to be affected by the disease.”

She also called on Essex residents to back the charity’s latest campaign We Will Beat Cancer Sooner, by making regular donations, taking used goods to a Cancer Research UK shop of taking part in the Race for Life, in October.