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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

How cancer survival is improving

Thursday September 12th, 2019

Cancer survival rates in the UK have improved significantly in the last two decades – but have failed to catch up with other countries, according to a major new analysis.

In many cases about a seventh of patients will now survive some cancers by one year or five years when they would not have in 1995, the researchers found.

The study, published in Lancet Oncology, compares outcomes for 3.9 million patients in seven countries affected by disease of seven hard-to-treat cancer sites over 20 years.

The countries are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the UK and the cancers are those of the oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung and ovary.

Five-year survival for rectal cancer increased by 14 percentage points in the UK while, in all countries, it increased by 12 percentage points for colon cancer.

One year survival for lung, ovarian and oesophageal cancer patients increased by 15 percentage points.

Researcher John Butler, a surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, said: : "There isn't one specific reason why survival in the UK has improved - it's a combination of many different factors. Over the last twenty years we've seen improvements in cancer planning, development of national cancer strategies and the rollout of new diagnostic and treatment services.

"For lung, ovarian, and oesophageal cancer in particular, survival has increased largely because the quality of surgery has radically improved, and more surgery is taking place than before. More people are being looked after by specialist teams, rather than surgeons who aren't experts in that area.

"But while we're still researching what can be done to close the survival gap between countries, we know continued investment in early diagnosis and cancer care plays a big part. Despite our changes we've made slower progress than others."

Dr Melina Arnold, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said: "The improvements in cancer survival observed are likely a direct consequence of healthcare reforms and technological advances that enable earlier diagnosis, more effective and tailored treatment and better patient management.

"Improvements in surgical techniques and new guidelines including preoperative radiotherapy as well as better diagnosis and scanning, enabling better staging of cancers and selection for targeted therapies, have all improved patient outcomes."

Arnold M, et al, Progress in cancer control: survival, mortality and incidence in seven high-income countries 1995-2014. Lancet Oncology 11 September 2109

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(19)30456-5/fulltext

Tags: Australia | Cancer | Europe | North America | UK News

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