24 March 2015
Cancer survival rates in the UK are at or behind a level that many other European countries had already achieved by the late 1990s, according to new analysis released today by Macmillan Cancer Support1.
The CONCORD-2 global study2 compared the five year cancer survival rates for a range of common cancers and revealed that survival rates in the UK for lung, breast, colon and stomach cancer are currently trailing 10 years behind other European countries.
The charity is concerned that the most recent figures show that UK cancer survival rates are lagging so far behind much of the rest of Europe, they are currently ‘stuck in the 1990’s’. For lung cancer in particular, the disparity is so stark that Austrian survival rates in the 1990s were better than the survival rates the UK has been able to achieve to date (14% for Austrian patients diagnosed 1995-99 compared with 10% for UK patients diagnosed 2005-09).
What’s more, people with lung cancer in Austria are almost twice as likely as patients in the UK to still be alive five years after their diagnosis (18% compared with 10%).
The charity is calling for all political parties to commit to tackling these poor survival rates and urgently prioritise improving cancer outcomes ahead of the upcoming general election.
Jerald Aidoo, 35, from Essex, lost his sister Mary, 53, to lung cancer within six weeks of her diagnosis in July 2012. He said:
"At first Mary just had some fatigue and because she didn't really have a cough nothing was picked up. By the time the doctors worked out what it was, it was too late.
"She was told that there was nothing they could do and she had weeks to live. She basically didn't have any treatment at all, just tablets.
"The whole thing was a massive shock to the family and she went downhill fast. I know they tell you that things can happen quickly, but they really do. Macmillan helped us set it up so that she could die at home. It was nice because she battled on a little longer and got to see people and say goodbye. It was hard to let go of hope for something miraculous, but we had to."
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“This analysis exposes the harsh reality that because UK cancer survival rates are lagging so far behind the rest of Europe, people are dying needlessly. Frankly, this is shameful.
“What we can see here is that better cancer survival rates are not unachievable. If countries like Sweden, France, Finland and Austria can achieve these rates, then the UK can and should, bridge the gap.
“With the general election in our sights, Macmillan is urging all political parties to make cancer a top health priority and commit to improving UK cancer survival rates and outcomes in order to match the best in Europe.”
For detail of the analysis and methods supporting these new figures please see here: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/AboutUs/Newsroom/10yearsbehind.doc
Ahead of the general election, Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘Time to Choose’ campaign is calling on the public to pledge their support and demand earlier diagnosis and better support after treatment to improve cancer outcomes so they match the best in Europe. For more info visit www.timetochoose.org.uk
For further information, please contact:
Cora Bauer, Senior Media and PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2016 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1) Comparison of five-year age-standardised net survival for patients diagnosed in 2005-09 compared to 1995-99. For further details see here: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/AboutUs/Newsroom/10yearsbehind.doc
2) Allemani C, Weir HK, Carreira H, et al., and the CONCORD Working Group. Global surveillance of cancer survival 1995–2009: analysis of individual data for 25,676,887 patients from 279 population-based registries in 67 countries (CONCORD-2). Lancet 2015; 385: 977–1010. For further details see here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62038-9
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