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Cancer survival improves in England

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by Cancer Research UK | News

16 September 2016

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Ten year survival

Cancer survival has steadily climbed over the last seven years, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

“Far too many people still die from the disease. Improving survival is a priority in England’s cancer strategy.” – Dr Rebecca Smittenaar, Cancer Research UK

Researchers followed patients who were diagnosed with one of the 24 commonest types of cancer between 2010 and 2014. 

Overall, both 1 year and 5 year survival has increased since 2009.

More than 8 out of 10 people affected by cancers of the breast (in women), prostate, testis and thyroid gland, and for Hodgkin lymphoma and melanoma of the skin, survive their disease for at least five years, as medical advances, public awareness campaigns and other public health measures have improved the way doctors diagnose and treat these diseases.

As more people are surviving cancer, there is a need to develop kinder treatments, to help make sure patients have the best quality of life during and after their cancer journey.

For the first time, the figures also included predicted 10 year survival numbers. More than 8 in 10 people diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer or breast cancer are predicted to survive at least ten years or more.

But the picture is very different for other cancer types. Fewer than 15% of people with lung, pancreatic, oesophageal cancers or brain tumours are expected to be alive ten years after their diagnosis.  

For cancers that occur in both sexes, survival tends to be higher in women. But there are exceptions – bladder cancer, for example, has a higher five-year survival (57%) in men compared to women (48%).

Commenting on the new figures, Dr Rebecca Smittenaar, Cancer Research UK’s statistics manager, said: “Cancer survival is improving and has doubled over the last 40 years. For a number of cancers, including breast and skin cancer, more than eight out of 10 people will survive their disease. Research has led to better treatments, new drugs, more accurate tests, earlier diagnosis and screening programmes – giving patients a better chance of survival.

But while more people are beating cancer, experts claim more still needs to be done to challenge its position as the number one cause of death in England and Wales.

Dr Smittenaar added, “Far too many people still die from the disease. Improving survival is a priority in England’s cancer strategy. We want to see the strategy put into action across the country, so that no matter where you live you have the best possible chance of surviving cancer.

“Survival remains low for some cancers, including lung, pancreatic, oesophageal cancer and brain tumours, partly because they tend to be diagnosed at a later stage when they’re much harder to treat. To turn this around Cancer Research UK has increased investment in these cancers and is carrying out vital research to help save more lives.”

Office for National Statistics bulletin