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Cancer survival rates improving.


Cancer survival rates in England are improving but remain a decade behind other countries with similar healthcare systems, a major new study shows.

Researchers the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that, due to late diagnosis and variable access to treatments, cancer survival rates for some types of the disease are up to a third lower than in Britain than in countries such as Australia.

The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, owned by Cancer Research UK, compared the lifespans of  four million bowel, breast, lung, ovarian and stomach cancer patients in England, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, between 1995 and 2012.

Cancer survival was lowest in England, while Australia and Sweden had the highest rates. Overall, the proportion of patients living for five years after diagnosis was five to 12 per cent lower in England than in Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden, during the same time period.

For some cancers, the gap was still wider. The figures show five-year survival for stomach cancer in England between 2010 and 2012 is 34.8 per cent lower than in Australia between 2005 and 2009.

Early diagnosis director at Cancer Research, UK Sara Hiom, said: "There’s too much variation across the country in the speed with which patients are diagnosed and whether they can get the treatments they need.

"The good news is that it seems previous improvements in cancer awareness, services and treatments mean we're now seeing some improvements in survival. But we must provide world-class funding for our cancer services and these services working together more effectively, if we want world-class cancer survival."

The latest figures show that in England, 20.7 per cent of people with stomach cancer will survive five years, whereas in Australia, survival was 27.9 per cent between 2005 and 2009, and 25.9 per cent in the 1990s.

Ovarian cancer and lung cancer survival were both 23 per cent higher in Sweden between 2005 and 2009 than the latest figures for England which show five-year survival of 35.2 per cent for ovarian cancer and 12.7 per cent for lung cancer.

However, five-year survival rates for breast cancer improved more in England in 2005-09 and 1995-99 than in the four leading countries and survival rates for all cancers, except ovarian, improved faster in England than in Australia.