Suffolk: Massive rise in cancer survival rates

Survival rates for breast cancer were the highest of those surveyed by the ONS Survival rates for breast cancer were the highest of those surveyed by the ONS

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
10:30 AM

The number of people who survive cancer in East Anglia has grown significantly in the last 15 years.

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Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the percentage of those in East Anglia who are surviving for a year after their diagnosis has almost doubled for some cancers.

The most marked improvement is for men diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. Whereas in 1996 only 25.4% of those patients survived for one year, that figure has risen to 47.8%.

The number of men surviving for five years after their diagnosis rose from 4.7% to 13.4% between 1996 and 2006.

For women diagnosed with oesophageal cancer the one-year survival rate has risen from 25.1% in 2006 to 42.5% 15 years later.

The one-year survival rate for those diagnosed with stomach cancer in East Anglia has risen from 32.1% to 46% with men, and 26.9% to 36.9% with women in the same period.

Survival rates for breast and cervical cancer were already the highest of the six cancers surveyed by the ONS in East Anglia.

However even these underwent an improvement. Between 1996 and 2011 the number of women who survived breast cancer for a year rose from 92.8% to 96.6%, and the number surviving cervical cancer rose from 80.4% to 85%.

Speaking to the EADT, the doctor who helped to compile the statistics said part of the reason for the successful treatment of these cancers was increased awareness and knowledge.

Dr Sarah Whitehead, Senior Research Officer for Cancer and End of Life Care at the ONS said: “I think it’s down to a combination of factors. Awareness and campaigning certainly play a role. For example, women are encouraged to regularly check their breasts and go to their doctor if they find anything unusual.

“This sort of activity means that breast cancer can hopefully be detected when it is much less advanced, which means that the chances of survival are higher. Screening possibly plays a part too as this can also detect a cancer at an earlier stage.

“One of the main factors influencing survival of the bigger cancers such as breast or prostate though is the huge amount of funding and research activity associated with them. This means that new drugs and treatments can be developed and tested, which in turn leads to higher survival.”

The deadliest cancer surveyed by the ONS was lung cancer, for men in East Anglia rates of survival after one year increased from 23.2% in 1996 to 31.8%, while for women the improvement was from 21.6% to 40.7%.

The figures are not based upon recorded causes of death but upon ONS estimates.

Dr Whitehead added: “The aim behind these figures is to monitor progress against the Department of Health’s goal of improving cancer survival, with the aim of saving an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014/15.”

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