Intended for healthcare professionals


Cancer survival in England: rates improve and variation falls

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 02 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1532
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

England has seen an improvement in all cancer survival rates and a decrease in geographical variation since 2001, new figures1 from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown.

  • Overall cancer survival Estimates of the combined one year survival rates for all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer and prostate cancer) in England have consistently improved over 15 years, from 62% in 2001 to 72.8% in 2016. The most improved clinical commissioning group (CCG) area was South Cheshire (from 53.8% to 74.6%), while the least improved was Wyre Forest (64.5 to 71%)

  • Reduced variation The range of one year cancer survival estimates across CCGs decreased from 16 percentage points in 2001 to 9.7 percentage points in 2016, suggesting less geographic inequality in cancer survival across England

  • Breast and colorectal cancer Geographic inequality across CCGs for one year net survival for breast and colorectal cancer reduced in 2016 compared with 2001. But the inequality in lung cancer net survival increased. At 30.7% Medway CCG had the lowest one year net survival estimates for lung cancer in 2016 while Central London (Westminster) had the highest at 53.8%

  • Longer term survival Five year all cancer survival estimates in England improved from 43.8% in 2001 to 53.2% in 2012. This data was collected regionally rather than at CCG level. The biggest improvements were in North East London (37.8 to 49.3%), North West London (41.8% to 54.5%), and North Central London (41.7% to 54.2%) while the smallest improvements were in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin (46.9% to 52.6%) and Dorset (49.4% to 55.6%) improvements

  • Cancer Alliances For the first time, the ONS tracked one year, five year, and 10 year survival estimates for each of the 19 Cancer Alliance areas across England. Five year survival by Cancer Alliance showed a decrease in the range of survival estimates from 8.1 percentage points in 2001 to 4 percentage points in 2012. Between 2001 and 2007, 10 year net survival increased across all alliances, with a decrease in the range between alliances. The alliance with the lowest 10 year all cancer survival estimate throughout 2001 to 2007 was North Central and North East London. The alliance with the highest estimate was Wessex.


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