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First Year Cancer Survival Rates Increased 9% Since 2005

First year survival rates for people with cancer in England increased by 9% between 2005 and 2020, according to the latest statistics.

NHS England (NHSE) has published a 1-year cancer survival index by year of diagnosis for adults aged 15-99 as well as by geographic region. The figures also presented specific 1-year survival estimates for colorectal, lung, and female breast cancers.

The index demonstrated that compared with the survival rate of the general population, 74.6% of people survived for 12 months after an initial diagnosis for any cancer in 2020 – an increase of 0.5% from the previous year. The 1-year cancer survival rate rose 9% overall from a 2005 figure of 65.6%.

Geographic Variations 'Narrowed'

Although survival rates for 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years fluctuated among sub-integrated care boards (ICBs), the NHSE highlighted that geographic variation at sub-ICB level had narrowed in the study period, with the range in survival estimates reducing from 9.1% in 2005 to 7.9% in 2020.

The 1-year breast cancer survival index now stood at around 97% and for bowel cancer the figure was above 80%, NHSE figures showed.

The range in net survival estimates between sub-ICBs decreased from 11.7% in 2020 for female breast cancer, decreased from 13.7% in 2005 to 13.1% in 2020 for colorectal cancer, but increased from 13% in 2005 to 18.7% in 2020 for lung cancer.

NHSE's analysis used data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support. The data was collated, maintained, and quality assured by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, which is part of NHSE.

'Laser Focused' on Cancer

The Department of Health and Social Care said the latest figures supported statistics released in February which suggested that 5-year survival rates had also improved for most types of cancer, and that child cancer survival rates had increased to more than 86%.

Health minister Helen Whately described the latest figures as "highly encouraging". She said: "We are laser focused on fighting cancer on all fronts – prevention, diagnosis, treatment, research, and funding – and have opened over 94 'one stop shops' so people can have quicker access to tests, scans and checks. We are also taking a vaccine taskforce style approach to cancer research to develop new immune-based cancer therapies, including cancer vaccines, as well as producing a major conditions strategy."

Ms Whately reiterated the Government's ambition to diagnose 75% of cancer at an early stage by 2028. Behind the strategy were several core elements designed to raise public awareness of cancer symptoms, encourage more people to come forward early for diagnosis, as well as implementing targeted interventions for harder-to-diagnose types of cancer.