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 latest Cancer Research UK figures published this week.

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

The welcome drop has been put down to more specialised care and treatment, such as that provided in the new £25million radiotherapy cancer centre in Colchester General Hospital, which opened in June.

The charity also said more cancers, specifically bowel cancers, are being diagnosed early as a result of scientists’ research.

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.”