The UK has the lowest survival rates for five of seven key cancers among some of the world’s richest nations.
Although survival rates are improving, the UK came bottom of the table for bowel, lung, pancreatic, stomach and rectal cancer.
Cancer Research UK analized 3.9 million cancer cases between 1995 and 2014 in seven comparable high-income countries with universal healthcare (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the UK).
Only for oesophagus and ovary cancer did UK do better than some of the other countries.
The authors of the study said the differences between the countries was partly explained by how quickly patients get a diagnosis and then prompt access to effective treatment.
Cancer Research UK’s clinical adviser, John Butler, who co-authored the study and is a consultant surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said: “For lung, ovarian, and oesophageal cancer in particular, survival has increased significantly because the quality of surgery has radically improved, and more surgery is taking place than before.
“More people are being looked after by specialist teams, rather than surgeons who aren’t experts in that area.
“But, while we’re still researching what can be done to close the survival gap between countries, we know continued investment in early diagnosis and cancer care plays a big part.
” Despite our changes, we’ve made slower progress than others. “
However the research did show that cancer survival one year after diagnosis and at the five-year mark has improved across all seven types of cancer in the UK over the last 20 years.
For example, five-year survival for rectal cancer in the UK has risen by 14 percentage points since 1995, from 48% to 62%.
The UK also has one of the highest increases in five-year survival – almost 12 percentage points – across all countries for bowel cancer.
Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of early diagnosis, said: “While we’re on the right track, the numbers show we can certainly do better.
” We will not see the necessary improvements in diagnosis and access to treatment unless we have enough of the right staff across our NHS. “
Responding to the report, NHS England said it was out of date, while the Department of Health and Social Care cited other data showing one-year survival rates for all types of cancer are at a record high.
In England, one-year survival has increased from 62% in 2001 to 72 .8% in 2016.
A spokesman said: “Cancer survival rates are at a record high, but we are determined to go further and save even more
” Through our NHS Long Term Plan, we will detect more cancers at an earlier stage, saving an estimated 55, 000 lives a year.
“Alongside this, the record # 33. 9 billion extra a year we’re investing in our NHS will help support the health service in recruiting the staff it needs for the future. “
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