Cancer survival ’10 years behind’

Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Survival rates for common cancers in the UK are trailing 10 years behind other European countries, a charity has warned.

Macmillan Cancer Support said survival rates in many places from the 1990s were better than the UK has achieved to date.

While 14% of patients in Austria diagnosed with lung cancer between 1995 and 1999 survived, just 10% of patients diagnosed between 2005 and 2009 in the UK have done so.

Analysis of the most recent results from global research into cancer survival, the CONCORD-2 study, looked at four common cancers in the UK: breast, lung, colon and stomach, and found that people with lung cancer in Austria were almost twice as likely to still be alive five years after diagnosis as patients in the UK (18% compared with 10% of those diagnosed between 2005 and 2009).

While 19% of people found to have stomach cancer between 2005 and 2009 in the UK survived, the figure was 31% for those diagnosed in Italy between 1995 and 1999, 30% in Austria and 23% in Germany.

Just over half (54%) of people diagnosed with colon cancer in the UK between 2005 and 2009 survived, but 59% for those diagnosed in Finland between 1995 and 1999 survived, 58% did in Italy and 57% in France.

While 81% of people diagnosed with the most common type of the disease – breast cancer – between 2005 and 2009 in the UK survived, 84% did in Sweden and France during the earlier period, and 83% did in Italy.

Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Lynda Thomas said the charity is calling for all the political parties to commit to tackling these “shameful” survival rates ahead of the general election.

She said: “This analysis exposes the harsh reality that because UK cancer survival rates are lagging so far behind the rest of Europe, people are dying needlessly.

“What we can see here is that better cancer survival rates are not unachievable. If countries like Sweden, France, Finland and Austria can achieve these rates, then the UK can and should bridge the gap.

“With the general election in our sights, Macmillan is urging all political parties to make cancer a top health priority and commit to improving UK cancer survival rates and outcomes in order to match the best in Europe.”

National clinical director for cancer at NHS England Sean Duffy said: “We are diagnosing and treating more people than ever before in this country and as a result the NHS is helping more people than ever survive cancer.

“We have come on leaps and bounds since this 2009 data highlighted by Macmillan, but we have an ambition to save even more lives and it’s time to take a fresh look at how we can do better.

“This is why we have already established an independent taskforce to develop a new cancer strategy for the next five years. It will set out how to deliver the vision described in the NHS Five Year Forward View, which calls for action on three fronts: better prevention; swifter diagnosis; and better treatment, care and aftercare for all those diagnosed with cancer.”

Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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