UK Cancer Survival Rates Still Trailing European Peers

Author:Mr Matthew Thaxter

Most people will have been impacted by cancer in some way - whether themselves, a family member, a loved one or an acquaintance. Stories about the causes of cancer and examples of exciting new breakthrough treatments feature regularly in media headlines. However, one issue more than any others attracts attention, and that's evidence of inequalities in patient outcomes. Last week's World Cancer Day, on 4th February, coincided with the publication of the CONCORD-3 report, comparing the outcomes for cancer patients from 73 different countries over the period 2000-2014.1 This week's blog reflects on some of the developments in the UK given the results of this ground breaking research suggests that the UK continues to lag behind many other comparable European countries.

About the Concord research programme

CONCORD is an international scientific collaboration, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, designed to monitor trends in the survival of cancer patients world-wide and enable a comparative evaluation of the effectiveness of health systems in providing cancer care. The research is also used to contribute to the evidence base for national and global policies on cancer control. The third report, was published in the Lancet in January 2018, and is based on an analysis of the clinical records of over 37 million patients from 71 countries, diagnosed with one of 18 types of cancer (2000-2014).2

The CONCORD-3 study, found that although cancer survival has generally increased, even for some of the more deadly cancers such as liver and lung, survival trends vary widely. Moreover, there are wide and persistent disparities between countries, particularly for some childhood cancers. The research considers that this is largely due to the availability and quality of diagnostic and treatment services.

UK performance in the CONCORD-3 analysis

In the UK, the results from the latest survey show that overall cancer survival is improving, with several cancers showing substantial increases in five-year survival, including breast (80% to 86%), prostate (82% to 89%), rectum (55% to 63%) and colon (52% to 60%); reflecting better cancer management. However, adults with cancer continue to have lower five-year survival than in many other comparable countries for several common cancers:

lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer in the UK, claiming a total of 35,486 lives in 2015. Based on five-year survival rates, the UK ranks 21st out of 27 other...

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