Survival rates for all common cancers improve across England

Survival rates for five common cancers in England have increased 'radically' over recent years, figures show, as officials suggest earlier diagnosis is behind the improvement.

Coloured SEM of a breast cancer cell (Photo: SPL)
Coloured SEM of a breast cancer cell (Photo: SPL)

Survival rates for breast, lung, prostate, colorectal and ovarian cancers diagnosed in 2012 all showed marked improvement compared to 2004-07 data.

The data were published on Tuesday in the Cancer Survival in England by Stage report by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), operated by Public Health England (PHE).

In cases of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, over 90% of patients diagnosed with stage 1 to 3 tumours are now expected to survive for at least a year, when standardised for a patient’s age.

Survival rates fell substantially only for stage 4 cancers in this time. Survival rates for lung and ovarian cancers, however, show a substantial drop with each increase in stage, emphasising the importance of early diagnosis.

Figures on all-stage cancer survival show that lung cancer had the biggest increase from 2004-07, with an overall improvement of 8.3%. Ovarian cancer survival rose by 6.5%, colorectal cancer by 6.3%, prostate cancer by 3.5%, and breast cancer by 1.6%.

World-leading data

PHE said the quality and completeness of the data meant England’s NCIN was one of the most advanced cancer networks in the world.

It is hoped the data can be used to provide valuable insights into how the effects of awareness and early diagnosis initiatives can impact cancer survival.

Sean Duffy, national clinical director for cancer at NHS England, said: ‘It’s hugely encouraging to see this significant improvement in cancer survival, which is excellent news for patients and a testament to the hard work of the NHS.

‘This report shows we cannot underestimate the importance of early diagnosis – the earlier cancer is spotted, the better the outcome. We will continue to do all we can to keep improving for the benefit of all cancer patients.’

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