British women face greater risk of cancer death than European counterparts

In collaboration with Adfero

The UK has a higher death rate from cancer in women than many other European countries, new figures show.

There were 153.7 deaths per 100,000 women from all cancers in 2007 in the UK, compared to an average of 131.5 female deaths for 25 EU member states, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The only nations with higher rates than the UK were Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Poland.

In contrast, the UK's death rate for men was lower than the EU average in 2007 - 212.3 deaths per 100,000 compared to an average of 228.7 per 100,000.

The ONS report also shows that UK death rates from breast cancer in women fell by 3.7 deaths per 100,000 between 2000 and 2007, while the EU average fell by 3.2 deaths per 100,000 women.

Despite falling at a faster rate than the EU average, the UK's death rate from breast cancer in women was still higher than that of the EU as a whole (26.8 deaths per 100,000 women compared with 23.6).

Catherine Thomson, head of statistical information at Cancer Research UK, said: "The UK has always had high female death rates for both lung and breast cancer, which is likely to be the reason why women in this country are more likely to die of cancer overall than women in Europe.

"Some progress has been made for breast cancer, with the UK showing bigger drops in death rates for the disease than in many other European countries, but our rates are still among the highest and there is clear room for improvement. Reorganising breast cancer services, screening, improved awareness and better treatments made possible as a result of world-class research are vitally important if breast cancer death rates are to continue to fall.

"We know that one of the reasons behind higher death rates in the UK is that we are often late in diagnosing cancer. Improving our ability to detect the disease earlier will help bring down the numbers of people dying from cancer. Meanwhile, encouraging people to live a healthy life can help reduce the risk of developing cancer in the first place."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "We know we are behind European countries when it comes to breast, bowel and lung cancer and that is why we are committed to improving cancer outcomes.

"Earlier diagnosis is crucial for us to match the best survival rates in Europe. We have already announced a campaign starting in January to alert people to early signs and symptoms of bowel, lung and breast cancer."