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UK improves cancer control

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7380.72 (Published 11 January 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:72
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    The United Kingdom has traditionally lagged behind many other countries in Europe and the United States in cancer control. But if it were given a school report on its efforts in treating and preventing cancers, the phrase “making good progress” would sum up the improvements achieved over the past two decades.

    The EUROCARE-2 study, published in 1999, showed that survival rates for 18 of the 25 cancers studied were poorer in Britain than in most other European countries (IARC Scientific Publications 1999;151:1-572). This, and other concerns about cancer survival, led to the NHS Cancer Plan in 2000, which acknowledged that cancer patients in England often had poorer survival prospects than those in other European countries. It suggested that for some cancers, such as breast and bowel, this might be due to patients having more advanced disease by the time they were treated (www.doh.gov.uk/cancer/cancerplan.htm).

    Reductions in cancer deaths can be achieved in two main ways—reducing incidence and improving survival. The United Kingdom has done particularly well in reducing cancer incidence, mainly due to public health measures. UK mortality statistics for 2000 showed that the age standardised mortality from lung cancer in men had fallen from about 857 deaths per million population in 1991 to 608 deaths per million in 2000, continuing a downward trend since the 1970s. This has been due to …

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