Survival rates for many cancers have levelled

New Office for National Statistics figures have shown that survival rates for many cancers have plateaued over the past decade.

Macmillan Cancer Support, which analysed the data, said that the stall is ‘really worrying’, especially given ‘some encouraging improvement on previous years’. The figures are made even more concerning, the charity says, because the UK is already lagging behind the rates of many other European countries.

Macmillan has previously claimed that the chances of surviving some of the most commonly occurring types of the disease in the UK trail at least 10 years behind many comparable European countries.

The new figures show that the proportion of adults who survived for one year or five years respectively after being diagnosed with cancer in the four-year period 2013-2017 showed little change from levels in 2008-2012. For bladder cancer, the five-year survival rate apparently deteriorated.

Approximately 45,800 women and 320 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, while 41,200 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and around 12,000 men and 11,200 women with colon cancer. For these three cancers, variations over time were insignificant in both one-year and five-year survival rates.

Fran Woodard, executive director of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “These statistics highlight the importance of early diagnosis in cancer, as survival rates for patients diagnosed with more advanced cancers are significantly worse than those caught at an earlier stage. Whilst hardworking NHS staff do everything in their power to ensure patients are referred, diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible, they are desperately struggling to meet rising patient need.

“Macmillan is calling on the government to publish a fully-funded plan to grow and sustain the NHS workforce as a matter of urgency. Without this, commitments in the NHS Long Term plan to improve cancer survival rates will not be met, and people living with cancer will continue to endure the consequences.”

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