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Warning over cancer survival rates

25 March 2015 09:06

A charity has raised concerns over UK cancer survival rates

A charity has raised concerns over UK cancer survival rates

The UK is 10 years behind other countries in the European Union when it comes to cancer survival rates, according to a charity.

In some countries on the continent, cancer patients were more likely to survive the disease in the 1990s than UK patients are now based on recent figures, Macmillan Cancer Support suggests.

In Austria, 14% of patients survived after finding out they had lung cancer between 1995 and 1999, but just one in 10 UK patients diagnosed with the same form of the disease between 2005 and 2009 are still alive.

Cancer patients who need or want to travel abroad are able to take out specialist cancer travel insurance.

Major global cancer study

CONCORED-2, an international study of cancer survival rates, involves the four main forms of the disease - breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and stomach cancer.

A research team using the information from the study said Austrian lung cancer patients were nearly two times as likely to live for five years (18%) as those in Britain (10%), after being diagnosed with the disease between 2005 and 2009.

After diagnosis between 1995 and 1999, some 31%, 30% and 23% of Italian, Austrian and German stomach cancer patients survived, but the survival rate in the UK following diagnosis between 2005 and 2009 was 19%.

In the UK, some 54% of colon cancer patients survived after being told they had the disease between 2005 and 2009, compared to 59% of patients in Finland, 58% in Italy and 57% in France who were diagnosed a decade earlier.

Survival rates are as high as 81% in UK patients diagnosed with the most common type of the disease, breast cancer, between 2005 and 2009, but after diagnosis 10 years earlier 84% of Swedish and French patients survived.

'Questions raised'

The rates of survival in the UK are "shameful", according to the chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, Lynda Thomas.

She is calling on politicians to do more to improve them after the General Election.

She says the performance in other countries shows it is possible to achieve better rates of survival. She wants the political parties to make improving cancer survival rates a high priority in their plans ahead of the vote in May.