Northern Ireland has UK's best cancer survival rates

Wales has the worst cancer survival rates in the UK, while Northern Ireland has the best, a study of over 31 countries has shown.

Data on 1.9 million cancer patients diagnosed in 1991/94 and followed up until 1999 was analysed, comparing five-year survival of breast, colon, rectum and prostate cancers.

Focusing on statistics from the UK, it seems that Northern Ireland has the best five-year survival rates, followed by Scotland, England and lastly Wales. For example, just 5 per cent of female rectal cancer patients in Scotland and Wales survived for five years, compared with 11 per cent on women with colon cancer in Northern Ireland and Wales.

On an even smaller scale, focusing on England, it seems the Trent region has the lowest survival for all cancers studied, with West Midlands, East Anglia, the south west and the south Thames regions coming out top.

But overall, the US still promises better survival prospects to its cancer patients than Europe.

Writing in the Lancet Oncology, the authors say: ‘Most of the wide global range in survival is probably attributable to differences in access to diagnostic and treatment services.

‘Survival is positively associated with gross domestic product and the amount of investment in health technology such as CT scanners. Part of the international variation in survival is thus probably attributable to under-investment in health resources.'
The findings are the first stage of the CONCORD study. Next, the team, led by Professor Michel Coleman, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will look at stage at diagnosis and treatment.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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