New figures show variation in cancer survival rates across the country

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A variation in cancer survival rates across the country has been revealed in new figures.

The Office for National Statistics has released figures showing that 34.2 per cent of men diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus from 2006 to 2008 survived for at least a year after diagnosis in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw compared to 46.5 per cent in Durham, Darlington and Teeside .

And 7.2 per cent of women with lung cancer in the Surrey and Sussex area lived for at least five years after being diagnosed in 2006 to 2008 compared to 12.1 per cent in East Anglia.

Men with prostate cancer had a better outlook in Birmingham and the Black Country with 86.3 per cent survival rate after five years compared to 70.9 per cent in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The ONS also 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.

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 per cent and five-year survival greater than 45 per cent 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 per cent and five-year survival less than 20 per cent.

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.

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.”