15 August 2014
Macmillan Cancer Support calls on main political parties to tackle poor cancer survival
Around 6,000 more people could survive at least 12 months after being diagnosed with cancer every year if the average survival rate for the whole of England matched the top 10 percent of local healthcare areas in the country, estimates Macmillan Cancer Support.
Analysis shows that the proportion of people dying within a year of being diagnosed with cancer is 61% higher in the worst-performing local healthcare area than the best in England.
Almost four in 10 (38%) cancer patients in Barking and Dagenham die within just 12 months, compared with one in four (24%) in North East Hampshire and Farnham.
The local healthcare areas with low proportions of people dying within 12 months of diagnosis include:
• North East Hampshire and Farnham (24%)
• Central London – Westminster (27%)
• Richmond (28%)
• Barnet (28%)
• Leeds North (29%)
• West Hampshire (29%)
• South Devon and Torbay (29%)
• Surrey Heath (29%)
• Stockport (29%)
• Dorset (29%)
The local healthcare areas with high proportions of people dying within 12 months of diagnosis include:
• Barking and Dagenham (38%)
• Crawley (38%)
• Newham (38%)
• Swale (38%)
• Vale Royal (38%)
• Thanet (38%)
• Medway (37%)
• Waltham Forest (36%)
• Telford and Wrekin (36%)
• Luton (36%)
The alarming postcode lottery of cancer survival in England could be explained by how quickly patients are being diagnosed and treated. For example, the areas with the poorest survival rates are, on average, failing to meet one of the key NHS waiting time targets which aims to ensure patients begin treatment quickly following an urgent referral from their GP.
Vikki Webb, 34, from Manchester, says:
“My father Ade had a persistent and very nasty cough about 18 months or so before he died of lung cancer. Despite being a heavy smoker for over 30 years, and being slap in the middle of the average age to develop lung cancer, he wasn’t offered a scan, was told it was bronchitis and given antibiotics. It didn’t shift so he was given a further two courses and eventually it gradually settled of its own accord.
“When his hips persisted in giving him trouble, he asked for a scan but they said it’d be a three-month wait. He was in such pain he paid to go privately. It showed that the cancer had spread throughout his body and bones, and it was terminal. Ade died eight weeks after his diagnosis.”
Juliet Bouverie, Director of Services and Influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“This analysis shows an inexcusable postcode lottery which is responsible for 6,000 people dying needlessly within 12 months of being diagnosed with cancer every year. It’s a no-brainer – when patients have to wait longer for diagnosis and treatment their chances of surviving are significantly reduced.
“It is also a disgrace that our survival rates continue to lag behind other European countries. Failure to act now will see us fall further behind. All the Westminster political parties must make cancer a top health priority ahead of the general election and commit to reducing the number of people who are diagnosed late.”
Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on the public to join their campaign to tackle the looming cancer crisis ahead of the general election: www.macmillan.org.uk/GeneralElection2015.
For further information, please contact:
Claire Keuls, Senior Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 7821 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1 ‘Local healthcare area’ here is defined as Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area. Macmillan estimates based on data from the Office for National Statistics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 2013. Index of cancer survival for Clinical Commissioning Groups in England; Patients diagnosed 1996-2011 and followed up to 2012. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/cancer-unit/a-cancer-survival-index-for-clinical-commissioning-groups/adults-diagnosed-1996-2011-and-followed-up-to-2012/stb---patients-diagnosed-1996-2011.html. (Accessed July 2014) The estimate is based on the one-year survival index for all cancers combined (first, primary, invasive malignancy excluding prostate and non-melanoma skin cancer) for all adults (aged 15-99 years) in England in 2011. The all England one-year survival index is 68%, the average one-year survival index for the top 10% of CCGs is 71% (Table 2-4: Index of cancer survival for Clinical Commissioning Groups in England, 2013 (Excel sheet 630Kb). This difference of 3% was then applied to the 194,602 cancer patients included in survival analyses in 2011 (Table 1: Index of cancer survival for Clinical Commissioning Groups in England, 2013 (Excel sheet 134Kb) to give a difference of 5,900 adult cancer patients. The one-year survival index is adjusted using a weighted average of all the cancer survival estimates for each age, sex and cancer. The standard weights are based on the proportions of cancer patients diagnosed in England and Wales during 1996–99 in each age group, sex and type of cancer. This means the 6,000 lives is also based on the profile of cancer patients diagnosed in England and Wales during 1996–99.
2 Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 2013. Index of cancer survival for Clinical Commissioning Groups in England; Patients diagnosed 1996-2011 and followed up to 2012. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/cancer-unit/a-cancer-survival-index-for-clinical-commissioning-groups/adults-diagnosed-1996-2011-and-followed-up-to-2012/stb---patients-diagnosed-1996-2011.html (Accessed July 2014)
3 ONS has already adjusted the rates for age, cancer type and the effect deprivation has on general life expectancy. This leaves only a weak link between deprivation and one-year cancer survival by CCG area. Furthermore, one in seven of the most deprived areas have better survival than the England average, and one in three of the least deprived (most affluent) areas have worse survival than the England average.
4 The target is 85% of patients starting treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral. The average for worst 20% of CCGs for Q4 2013-14 is 83.1%, compared with 86% in the best 20% of CCGs.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk