Cancer experts encouraged by improving survival rates

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Thumbnail for 8263By: Jonathan Owen


More than 96 per cent of breast cancer sufferers now live for at least a year after being diagnosed, according to official figures revealing improved survival rates for all major types of cancer.

One-year survival rates for prostate cancer have increased from 93.1 per cent to 96.6 per cent, while ovarian cancer survival is up from 68.1 per cent to 74.7 per cent and colorectal cancer survival has risen from 71.5 per cent to 78 per cent.

The data from Public Health England (PHE), which compared the outcomes of 152,821 people diagnosed in 2012 with figures from 2004-7, also shows that one-year lung cancer survival rates have jumped from 28 per cent to 36.3 per cent.

Experts said that the improvements were being driven by advances in treatments and an increased focus on spotting cancers early. PHE warned that “survival is always poorer in cancers diagnosed at a later stage”, with elderly people at particular risk of late diagnosis.

The report comes amid renewed hope that medical research is helping turn the corner in the fight against cancer. Earlier this year Cancer Research UK said  that half of all people diagnosed with the disease today can expect to live for at least 10 years – effectively meaning they have been cured.

The “significant improvement in cancer survival” is “hugely encouraging,” said Sean Duffy, national clinical director for cancer at NHS England. “Our ambition is to raise our survival rates to match the very best in Europe,” he added.

Jem Rashbass of the PHE’s National Cancer Registration Service, said: “This report on one-year survival uses the most accurate national staging data ever available in England. It is only by having data of this quality that we can hope to understand where we are making progress on cancer diagnosis and treatment and where to focus our efforts.”

But the PHE figures did raise some concerns, with poorer patients still at increased risk of dying. And the report admits that international studies “typically show England and the UK to have a lower survival from cancer than comparable European countries.”