A SOUTHAMPTON dad who won his battle against a rare cancer because of pioneering treatment is urging people to dig deep to ensure other parents can live to see their children grow up.

Former nurse Andrew Austin believes he is only alive today thanks to a groundbreaking clinical trial which allowed him to beat Burkitt’s lymphoma – only made possible by research funded by Cancer Research UK.

Now today, as latest figures reveal the lifetime risk of developing cancer is increasing, the 49-year-old is backing the charity’s new fundraising campaign to ensure vital research into the devastating disease continues to give others like him a chance of survival, when before there was none.

Latest statistics predict that a man’s lifetime risk of developing the disease is set to reach one in two in the UK by 2027.

This means that within 15 years 50 men out of every 100 are likely to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 44 out of every 100 in 2010.

Women’s lifetime cancer risk is also increasing and is predicted to rise from 40 to 44 out of every 100 women by 2027.

However, although both are on the rise the good news is that thanks to research survival rates have doubled in the past 40 years and more people in the south east are now beating the disease than ever before.

Andrew, who has two children, Charlie, 23 and Kayleigh, 22, was diagnosed in 2002 and was offered a place on a clinical trial.

He said: “By then I knew how serious the situation was, but I thought if it didn’t help me, it would help someone else.

“The standard chemotherapy treatment was a problem because I am diabetic.

“The trial drug reduced a tumour weighing two kilos – or four bags of sugar.”

Now treatment-free and discharged from hospital, Andrew, who leads the local Cerburus Explorer Scout Group, added: “I came through a difficult time with a new philosophy – treat every day as though it is your last.”

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters Cancer Research UK spent nearly £25m last year in the south east on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research, some of which happened in Southampton.

Helen Johnstone, from Cancer Research UK, said: “We’re calling on people across the south east to back our new campaign and help us bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”