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Cancer survival rates vary by area

Published 28/04/2015

The ONS said it had found
The ONS said it had found "wide geographic differences in survival" for cancers of the oesophagus and stomach in men, and for cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, colon and bladder in women

Patients with some cancers are up to 68% more likely to survive five years after diagnosis in certain areas of England than others, new figures show.

While 7.2% of women with lung cancer in the Surrey and Sussex area team lived for at least five years after being diagnosed in 2006 to 2008, 12.1% did in East Anglia, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Men with prostate cancer had a better outlook in Birmingham and the Black Country (86.3%) compared to Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire (70.9%).

The ONS also said it had found "w ide geographic differences in survival" for cancers of the oesophagus and stomach in men, and for cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, colon and bladder in women.

While in Durham, Darlington and Tees 46.5% of men diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus from 2006 to 2008 survived for at least a year after diagnosis, the figure was just 34.2% in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.

Men in Wessex had a greater chance of surviving stomach cancer, with 47.5% surviving for at least a year after diagnosis within the same period, compared to 35.2% in Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral.

While 44% of women suffering from cancer of the oesophagus survived for at least a year in Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire, this figure was 30.2% in Birmingham and the Black Country.

And more women in Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire who were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008 were more likely to live at least a year (74%) than in Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral (62.6%), while 73.3% of women in Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire who were diagnosed with bladder cancer survived at least a year compared to 55.6% in Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.

The ONS said it should be noted that the particularly wide disparity with regard to bladder cancer is likely to be due to changes in classification.

At a national level, one -year survival was more than 70% and five-year survival greater than 45% for cancers of the colon, breast, cervix, prostate and bladder, it said.

But for cancers of the oesophagus, stomach and lung, survival remained very low, with one-year survival less than 45% and five-year survival less than 20%.

One-year survival is generally higher in men, except with lung cancer, while five-year survival is higher in women, apart from with bladder cancer.

Among the 25 area teams in England, the largest annual change from 2004 to 2008 in one-year survival was for oesophageal cancer (increasing 5.5% per year) for both men in Durham, Darlington and Tees and for women in North Yorkshire and Humber.

Duleep Allirajah, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the statistics show an " alarming and unacceptable variation in cancer survival rates across the country".

"Delays in diagnosis and unequal access to treatment are likely to be contributing to this inexcusable post code lottery which is costing lives," he said.

"With UK cancer survival rates continuing to lag years behind the rest of Europe it's now time for urgent action to tackle this growing cancer crisis.

"The General Election is now in our sights and Macmillan is urging all political parties to make cancer a top health priority and take action to improve UK cancer survival rates and outcomes in order to match the best in Europe."

Nick Ormiston-Smith, Cancer Research UK's head of statistics, said: "The increasing one and five-year survival for eight of the 10 most common cancers shows the power of research - thanks to better treatments, earlier diagnosis and greater awareness, more people are surviving cancer than ever before.

"But there are still some large hurdles to overcome. Cancers such as lung, pancreatic and oesophageal, as well as brain cancer, still have poor survival, partly because they tend to be diagnosed at a later stage when they're much harder to treat.

"These statistics also show a geographical difference in survival, highlighting the need for the NHS to have the investment, leadership and support to deliver better treatments to all patients, no matter where they live."

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