Survival rates have greatly improved for several cancers.

Thousands of patients with the most advanced stage of cancer are surviving for several years after diagnosis, an analysis shows.

Macmillan Cancer Support said that in 2015 there were at least 17,000 people alive after being diagnosed with stage-four cancer at least two years previously. Stage four is when a primary cancer has spread to other parts of the body and usually has a poor prognosis.

The charity said in most cases stage-four cancer cannot be cured, but because of advances in treatment and care it can be managed like a chronic illness and the patient’s life prolonged.

Macmillan’s analysis of figures from Public Health England on ten common cancers is the first of its kind to track the survival of patients diagnosed with the