08 February 2022

Patients with myeloma in England have shown the biggest increase in survivability, according to a new NHS Digital report.

The report showed that when looking at the change in five-year survival for several different cancers for patients diagnosed between 2006-10 and 2015-19, the biggest improvement was among myeloma patients.

The authors found average annual increases in five-year survival of 1.0% for males and 1.4% for females. Five-year survival for those diagnosed in 2015-19 was 54.9% for men and 56.7% for women.

The same report showed that the biggest decrease in survivability was in bladder cancer, with average annual decreases in five-year survival of 0.5% for males and 0.6% for females.

Five-year survival for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma increased by 0.3% year-on-year for both men and women.

The findings are based upon a new report, “Cancer Survival in England for Patients Diagnosed Between 2015 and 2019”, which uses data from the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS). The report provides information on survival rates for cancers in adults that were newly diagnosed between the 2015 and 2019 calendar years and in children that were newly diagnosed between 2002 and 2019 calendar years in England.

Breakdowns for adult survival are available by geography, sex, and diagnosis stage. Deprivation breakdowns have also been included for the first time. This shows that for most cancer types, the net survival rate was lowest in the most deprived area and highest in the least deprived.

For children, the five-year cancer survival rate has increased for 0-14 year olds, from 76.9% in 2002 to 85.2% in 2019, its highest recorded level.

The analysis was published in advance of World Cancer Day (4th February), on which the UK government announced a ten-year “war on cancer.”

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid promised to increase the workforce in cancer care and increase rates of early-stage diagnosis.

He also wants to support research on mRNA-based vaccines and treatments for cancer. There is also a promise of further efforts to tackle big risk factors, such as smoking.

He launched a call for evidence to inform the 10-year ‘war on cancer’, which is seeking input from cancer patients, relatives and NHS staff. The call-for-evidence will run for eight weeks until 1st April 2022.

Cancer care has improved in recent years, according to the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC). In the last 15 years, one-year survival has increased by more than 10% and for patients diagnosed in 2015, their survival rate was 72% after one year.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact, says the DHSC. There were nearly 50,000 fewer cancer diagnoses across the UK during the pandemic, including 34,000 in England.

National cancer director Cally Palmer said: “From one stop shops for vital checks and revolutionary treatment options like proton beam therapy – we will continue to go further and faster in our mission to save more lives and ensure England is world leading in cancer care.

“A key part of the strategy will be building on the latest scientific advances and partnering with the country’s technology pioneers.”

Cancer Research UK chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “The Secretary of State has set out a bold ambition for cancer services. We must make the most of this opportunity, going further and faster than we have before. And critically, this ambition must be backed with funding and accountability. It has been an incredibly difficult time for people affected by this disease.

“For years, progress in cancer has been too slow – and due to the disruption of the pandemic, we now face the prospect of that progress stalling. As a country we should not be satisfied with the pace of change to date, or the fact that the burden of cancer weighs heaviest on the most deprived in the UK.”

Source: Department of Health and Social Care/NHS Digital

Link: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/cancer-survival-in-england/cancers-diagnosed-2015-to-2019-followed-up-to-2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/health-and-social-care-secretary-to-launch-new-10-year-national-war-on-cancer

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