Cancer survival in England improves but still lags behind similar countries

Is England closing the international gap in cancer survival?

Survival among patients in England with a range of cancers has improved steadily over the past few years but remains lower than in other countries with similar healthcare systems, a new study shows.. Image of the Cancer Survivors Park sculpture, Rancho Mirage, California by James May © all rights reserved.

2015 Study Abstract

Background
We provide an up-to-date international comparison of cancer survival, assessing whether England is ‘closing the gap’ compared with other high-income countries.

Methods
Net survival was estimated using national, population-based, cancer registrations for 1.9 million patients diagnosed with a cancer of the stomach, colon, rectum, lung, breast (women) or ovary in England during 1995–2012. Trends during 1995–2009 were compared with estimates for Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Clinicians were interviewed to help interpret trends.

Results
Survival from all cancers remained lower in England than in Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden by 2005–2009. For some cancers, survival improved more in England than in other countries between 1995–1999 and 2005–2009; for example, 1-year survival from stomach, rectal, lung, breast and ovarian cancers improved more than in Australia and Canada. There has been acceleration in lung cancer survival improvement in England recently, with average annual improvement in 1-year survival rising to 2% during 2010–2012. Survival improved more in Denmark than in England for rectal and lung cancers between 1995–1999 and 2005–2009.

Conclusions
Survival has increased in England since the mid-1990s in the context of strategic reform in cancer control, however, survival remains lower than in comparable developed countries and continued investment is needed to close the international survival gap.

Sources and more information
  • Is England closing the international gap in cancer survival?, British Journal of Cancer; doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.265, bjc2015265a, advance online publication 4 August 2015.
  • Cancer survival in England is improving – but still lagging behind similar countries, Cancer Research UK, August 5, 2015.

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