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The 10-year survival rate for all types of cancer has hit 46.2% inEngland and Wales, almost doubling the 23.6% recorded 30 years ago.
Accordingto Cancer Research UK, advances in treatment and better management ofthe condition – including earlier detection, specialist surgery,screening programmes and the use of multidisciplinary teams intreatment delivery – have played a major role in boosting survivalrates for the most common forms of cancer.
The calculation,by Professor Michael Coleman and colleagues at the London School ofHygiene and Tropical Medicine, also shows that survival rates forindividual cancers continue to vary wildly. For example, just 2.5% ofpatients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are alive after five years,compared with 95% of those with testicular cancer.
Similarly,the overall survival picture obscures both disappointments andsuccesses in each area, CRUK notes. While there has been littleimprovement in pancreatic and lung cancer, nearly two-thirds of womennewly diagnosed with breast cancer live for 20 years, and the five-yearsurvival rate for bowel cancer has risen from 6% to 46% in the last 10years, the organisation says.
Although it is important tomonitor individual cancers, the charity explains it is necessary tofocus on a simple benchmark, such as overall survival, to measureprogress in the fight against the disease, as well as set meaningfulgoals for the future. To this end, CRUK has set 10 new “ambitious”goals to achieve by 2020, including increasing the overall five-yearsurvival rate – currently 49.6% – by two-thirds.
Othertargets include making the latest treatment advances available,lowering disease incidence, ensuring that patients get access to theright information, and reducing affluence-related inequalities in bothincidence and survival.
But the results came in just a fewdays after a global report by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute on accessto cancer drugs, which found the UK was lagging way behind its Europeanpeers in providing patients with the latest treatment advances,indicating that there is still some way to go. However, CRUK chiefexecutive Harpal Kumar remains upbeat: “We read a lot of negativestories about the UK’s place in Europe, so it’s encouraging thesefigures show such dramatic improvements in cancer survival. The newgoals will help us build on that progress.”