A person’s chances of living for at least 12 months following a cancer diagnosis could depend on where they live, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS figures show that the one-year cancer survival rate in Leicester city centre is 67.7%, making it the worst-performing NHS group in England by this measure. In other words, nearly a third of cancer patients in Leicester city centre die within 12 months of being diagnosed with the disease.
In fact, only 20 areas in England keep three-quarters of their cancer patients alive for more than a year following diagnosis and the majority of them are in or around London.
In contrast, the 10 worst-performing areas (mainly in the Midlands and Kent) have an average 12-month cancer survival rate of 68.47%, meaning that patients living in these areas face a postcode lottery when it comes to living for more than a year.
However, the ONS figures do reveal some good news too.
For example, the gap between the area with the highest 12-month cancer survival rate (Richmond in London) and the area with the lowest (Leicester City) has reduced over the years. In 2001, it was 16%, but has fallen to 9.7% according to the ONS figures for 2016.
Furthermore, the average 12-month survival rate for England as a whole rose from 62% in 2001 to 72.8% in 2016.
So even though there is still a difference when it comes to cancer survival rates across the country, the gap between the top and worst areas has closed by a considerable amount and a person’s chances of surviving – regardless of where they live – at least one year have increased too.
Nevertheless, experts warn that England is being held back when it comes to boosting cancer survival rates because of NHS cash and staff shortages.
Matt Case, policy manager at Cancer Research UK said that while cancer survival rates improving is obviously good news, England needs to improve them even more if it is to keep up with other countries.
“Diagnosing cancer early is key to improving survival but the NHS is currently struggling because of persistent staff shortages. The Government must provide investment for more staff to diagnose and treat cancer, or the ambition to diagnose 75 per cent of cancers at an early stage by 2028 won’t be met,” he said.
After Leicester City, Medway in Kent (67.9%) and Barking and Dagenham in London (68%) have the lowest 12-month cancer survival rates. After Richmond, Surrey Heath (77.1%) and Central London (Westminster) (77.1%) have the highest 12-month cancer survival rates.
While the ONS figures do indeed reveal some good news when it comes to cancer survival rates, it is still concerning to see that where you live is still relevant in how successful your fight against cancer can be.
I joined Premier Choice Group as a Healthcare & Protection Consultant in 2017, where I now look after the needs of over 200 clients nationwide. Prior to joining the Premier Choice Group, I worked for a large Private Healthcare Insurer, VitalityHealth, and managed SME and Individual clients across the country.