Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters UK cancer survival statistics

Rebuttal to editorial saying cancer survival statistics are misleading

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 05 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4214
  1. Michel P Coleman, professor of epidemiology and vital statistics1,
  2. Bernard Rachet, clinical senior lecturer1,
  3. Laura Woods, lecturer1,
  4. Franco Berrino, director2,
  5. John Butler, fellow in gynaecologic oncology and clinical adviser3,
  6. Riccardo Capocaccia, research director4,
  7. Paul Dickman, associate professor of biostatistics5,
  8. Anna Gavin, medical director6,
  9. Roch Giorgi, professor of biostatistics7,
  10. Willie Hamilton, professor of primary care diagnostics8,
  11. Paul Lambert, reader in medical statistics9,
  12. Michael D Peake, national clinical lead and clinical lead10,
  13. Maja Pohar Perme, assistant professor11,
  14. Janez Stare, professor of biostatistics11,
  15. Peter Vedstedt, professor and director12
  1. 1Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group, Department of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, UK
  2. 2Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine, National Cancer Institute, Milan, Italy
  3. 3St Bartholomew’s and Royal Marsden Hospitals, London, UK, and International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership
  4. 4Cancer Epidemiology Unit, National Centre of Epidemiology, Istituto Superiore di Sanitá, Rome, Italy
  5. 5Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  6. 6Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  7. 7Faculty of Medicine, Aix-Marseille University, France
  8. 8Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, Exeter, UK
  9. 9Centre for Biostatistics and Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  10. 10NHS Cancer Improvement and National Cancer Intelligence Network, Leeds, UK
  11. 11Institute of Biomedical Informatics, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  12. 12Danish Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  1. Michel.Coleman{at}

Beral and Peto’s 2010 editorial on cancer survival statistics is unfounded, untenable, and inconsistent.1 Godlee reported in September 2010 that they were then too busy to defend it.2 The editorial is indefensible. It should be withdrawn.

The editorial is unfounded. The provocative subtitle, “UK cancer survival statistics are misleading and make survival look worse than it is,” is pure conjecture. Conjecture becomes assertion, then …

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