Cancer death rates fall despite a rise in diagnoses

In collaboration with the Press Association

The cancer death rate in the UK has dropped for both men and women, despite a rise in the rate of people diagnosed with the disease, new data has revealed.

Death rates among men have dropped from 229 per 100,000 males in 2001-03 to 204 in 2008-10, while rates in women fell from 160 per 100,000 women in 2001-03 to 149 in 2008-10.

Almost 323,000 people were diagnosed with cancer each year in 2008-10, with 156,200 people dying in each of those years, the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

The four most common cancers were breast, prostate, lung and bowel, while death rates were highest in Scotland - approximately 15 per cent above the UK average.

In total, 431 out of every 100,000 men in the UK were diagnosed with cancer between 2008 and 2010 - up from 403 in every 100,000 between 2001 and 2003, according to the ONS.

The diagnosis rate was also up in the female population, with the number of cancer diagnoses rising from 342 per 100,000 women in 2001-03 to 375 for every 100,000 in 2008-10.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government was committed to improving cancer survival rates.

"It is encouraging to see figures moving in the right direction with overall deaths falling, but there is more we can to make sure that our cancer services are world-class and that NHS patients receive the best treatment available," he said.

Catherine Thomson, head of statistical information at Cancer Research UK, said: "These UK figures show the numbers getting and dying from the three most common cancers for both sexes have not changed. For men they remain as prostate, lung and bowel; for women they are breast, lung and bowel.

"But while overall cancer incidence rates have continued to rise, deaths rates from cancer have fallen - by 11 per cent for men and by 7.5 per cent for women since the start of the century. So the good news is that as individuals our risk of dying from the disease has fallen."

Cancer Research UK is currently campaigning to ban advertising on cigarette packages, meaning firms would be forced to sell them in generic plain packaging.

She added: "The reduction in people smoking has helped hugely for many cancers, and we're better at diagnosing some cancers earlier. We're also better at treating many cancers, with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as well as developing more tailored personalised medicine.

"Cancer Research UK's work is at the heart of this progress, and we're building on these achievements by bringing knowledge from our world-class laboratories into the clinic to carry out new clinical trials to find the most effective new treatments."

Copyright Press Association 2012