Cancer survival improving in deprived areas

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer survival is improving in the most deprived areas of England, according to new figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

Although survival in the most deprived populations - known as the Spearhead group of primary care trusts (PCTs) - is still lower than in the rest of England, there have been definite improvements.

Survival across the 62 Spearhead PCTs improved to a greater extent than in other PCTs between 1998 and 2004, meaning that the gap between the most and least health-deprived areas has narrowed.

The data reveal that the most marked improvements were for prostate cancer, one-year survival for which rose from 89.6 per cent to 91.5 per cent, while five-year survival increased from 70.5 per cent to 75.4 per cent.

This means that prostate cancer survival in Spearhead PCTs is now similar to that found in the rest of England.

One-year survival for breast cancer rose from 93.4 per cent among patients diagnosed between 1998 and 2002 to 94.1 per cent among those diagnosed between 2000 and 2004.

Five-year survival for breast cancer in Spearhead PCTs was 80.5 per cent by the end of 2004, compared with 81.2 per cent for the rest of the nation's PCTs.

Lung cancer survival has also improved - from 24.2 per cent to 25.4 per cent among men, and from 26.5 per cent to 28.2 per cent in women.

Meanwhile one-year survival from oesophageal cancer among men rose from 28.8 per cent to 31.8 per cent.

Catherine Thomson, head of statistical information at Cancer Research UK, said: "It's reassuring that some progress has been made to reduce the gap between affluent and deprived areas, but more work is needed.

"People in deprived areas may be more likely to take up unhealthy habits, like smoking and being overweight, and they may also present symptoms to their doctor later, making their cancers harder to treat successfully.

"Cancer Research UK is working with the Department of Health on the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative to promote the early diagnosis of cancer in all communities. This is to help ensure that everyone has an equal chance of beating cancer regardless of where they live."

The figures were produced in collaboration with a team partially funded by Cancer Research UK at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.