Cancer survival rates improving across England

In collaboration with Adfero

Cancer survival rates have improved across England, according to two new reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But the reports also reveal that there are still gaps in survival, with patients from wealthy areas having a better chance of beating cancer than their poorer counterparts.

The two reports looked at adults diagnosed with cancer between 1991 and 2006 and followed their progress until 2007, providing one-year and five-year survival estimates for cancers of the oesophagus (foodpipe), stomach, bowel, lung, breast and cervix.

One report looked at data from different Cancer Networks; the other looked at survival rates across different Primary Care Trusts.

The first report on Cancer Networks showed that, between 1991-95 and 2001-06, one- and five-year relative survival from cancers of the foodpipe, stomach, bowel, lung and breast improved by three to ten percentage points.

However, regional disparities in survival did not decrease between 1991 and 2006.

Data for 2001-06 revealed a difference of more than ten percentage points between the networks with highest and lowest one-year survival rates for cancers of the foodpipe, stomach, bowel and lung (women).

Commenting on the second report, Catherine Thomson, head of statistical information at Cancer Research UK, observed that it was one of the most detailed investigations to compare overall cancer survival rates across the whole of England.

She said: "These figures are encouraging and reinforce previous ones showing that in general cancer survival rates have significantly improved over the past 40 years.

"But this study also flags up certain areas, particularly those in the north of England and those which are generally deprived, that are consistently falling short of the national average.

"Late diagnosis of cancer could help explain some of this north-south divide and why the poorer areas tend to do worse. This could help highlight where efforts to promote early diagnosis could be best targeted to help save lives."