World Cancer Day: Chances of surviving cancer in England have improved

Your chances of surviving cancer have improved.

The latest figures for England, released ahead of World Cancer Day, show that for almost all cancers, people are more likely to survive a year or five years after diagnosis.

However, survival rates do vary depending on type of cancer, when it was diagnosed, or even where you live.

The figures from NHS Digital show patients diagnosed with all cancers apart from bladder cancer between 2015 and 2019 were more likely to survive for one year than those diagnosed between 2006 and 2010.

The biggest improvement was for women with lung cancer – 31.6% survived a year between 2006 and 2010 rising to 46.0% between 2015 and 2019.

Other types of cancer seeing improved one-year survival rates were myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer), up from 70.2% to 81.5%, oesophagus, up from 39.7% to 45.7%, and stomach, up from 40.7% to 46.3% .

Patients diagnosed between 2015 and 2019 also had higher five-year survival than patients diagnosed between 2006 and 2010 for all cancers except for bladder and colon cancer

The largest improvement was for myeloma in women, up from 36.8% to 52.7%.

The small reduction in bladder cancer survival is possibly in part due to worldwide shortages, during part of the period of the therapeutic treatment Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) used to treat higher risk bladder cancer patients diagnosed at an early stage.

About one in five bladder cancer patients may benefit from the use of this treatment.

For diagnoses between 2015 and 2019, skin cancers (melanoma) had the highest survival rates – 97.6% of men with the cancer and 98.8% of women survived a year, and 89.9% of men and 94.8% of women survived five years.

Cancer survival is lowest for pancreatic cancer and mesothelioma, which is mainly caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.

One-year survival is lowest for pancreatic cancers for both men (26.4%) and women (27.4%), and is lowest for women for five-year survival at 7.8%. For men, five-year survival is lowest for mesothelioma at 6.3%.

Stage at diagnosis of cancer is also an important factor that affects cancer outcomes.

Earlier diagnosis, that is, usually when cancers are diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 as opposed to stages 3 and 4, is associated with better prognosis on average.

Five-year age-standardized net survival rates by stage range from 3.2% for a man with stage 4 lung cancer to 101.1% for a woman with stage 1 melanoma.

As adult cancer patients often die from causes unrelated to their cancer diagnosis, the survival estimates compare the survival of cancer patients with that of the general population.

A survival rate of over 100% means, for women with stage 1 melanoma, fewer people are dying than would be expected in the general population.

For all survival times, London tends to have the highest results (top for approximately 10 out of 21 types), while the Midlands tends to have the lowest results (bottom for approximately seven out of 21 sites)

Cancer survival is also lower in areas with higher deprivation.

The biggest differences in the one-year age-standardized survival between persons living in the least deprived areas compared to the most deprived areas were 10.0 percentage points for oesophagus, 8.9 percentage points for bladder and 8.4 percentage points for large cell (diffuse) lymphoma.

For the most common cancers, the difference in one-year survival between persons living in the least deprived areas compared to the most deprived areas were 7.9 percentage points for colorectal cancer, 7.4 percentage points for lung cancer, 2.5 percentage points for breast cancer and 1.6 percentage points for prostate cancer.

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