Survival rates for the rarer cancers continue to trail behind

Statistics released yesterday show an overall increase cancer survival rates over recent years - yet for the rarer cancers, survival rates remain low.

 

Statistics released yesterday show an overall increase cancer survival rates over recent years – yet for the rarer cancers, survival rates remain low, prompting cancer charities to call for much more to be done in the fight against the less common cancers.

The ONS’ “Cancer Survival in England: Patients Diagnosed 2006–2010 and Followed up to 2011” (pdf) found:

• The general trend of increasing survival continued for patients diagnosed during 2006–2010;

Survival is generally lower among older patients than younger patients;

• Five-year survival is over 80 per cent for cancers of the breast (women), prostate and testis, and for Hodgkin lymphoma and melanoma of skin;

• Five-year survival for cancers of the brain, lung, oesophagus, pancreas and stomach in both sexes is below 21 per cent;

Survival for pancreatic cancer remains the lowest in both sexes.

Responding to the stats, Charlotte Potter, policy manager of Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“Yet again, survival for rarer cancer is trailing behind the more common cancers. This proves just how vital it is for the NHS to be measured against and held to account for improving cancer survival for all cancers not just the more common ones.

“Nobody chooses the type of cancer they have. Each cancer patient deserves to be given the best chance of survival.

“The government and the NHS Commissioning Board must listen and ensure that one-year and five-year survival indicators for all cancers are included in their relevant outcomes frameworks.”

The ONS states:

The general trend of increasing five-year net survival (Rachet et al., 2009) continued for patients diagnosed during 2006–2010, with survival improving for all of the 21 most common cancers.

Five-year survival was over 80 per cent for cancers of the breast (women), prostate and testis, and for Hodgkin lymphoma and melanoma of the skin. Prognosis remained very poor, with five-year survival of below 21 per cent, for malignancies of the brain, lung, oesophagus, pancreas and stomach.

The largest increases in five-year survival, compared with the corresponding values for patients diagnosed during 2005–2009, were for men diagnosed with myeloma, and for women diagnosed with colon cancer, rectal cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Women had higher five-year survival than men for most cancers. Men had higher five-year survival for bladder cancer (57.8 per cent compared with 48.8 per cent) and myeloma (41.1 per cent compared with 38.3 per cent).

The highest five-year survival was for testicular cancer among men, at 96.7 per cent, and malignant melanoma of the skin among women, at 91.2 per cent. The lowest five-year survival among both women and men was for pancreatic cancer, at 3.9 and 4.4 per cent respectively. Patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer also had the lowest five-year survival in 2005–2009.

For most cancers, five-year survival is generally lower among the oldest patients. The main and well-known exceptions to this pattern are for breast cancer in women and for prostate cancer.

For pancreatic cancer in particular, diagnosis is as good as a death sentence – literally within weeks. As Macmillan say, all cancer patients deserve to be given the best chance of survival; 3.9 and 4.4 per cent survival rates are nowhere near that.

We must Stand Up to ALL Cancers.

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